KAYSVILLE — The Hopebox Theatre’s production of The Addams Family reunites audiences with the familiar faces of everyone’s favorite spooky family: Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandma Addams, Cousin It and, of course, Lurch. It is a production that is particularly delightful this time of year and a great addition to anyone’s Halloween celebrations.
With a script by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, The Addams Family begins with a twist, when Wednesday discloses to her father that she is engaged to be married and is nervous about introducing her fiancé and his parents to the Addamses. Chaos inevitably ensues as the two families meet, inhibitions are thwarted, and long held secrets revealed.
Director Sadie Day had a remarkably strong cast to work with. This is particularly true for the actors portraying the characters originally created by Charles Addams. Whether it was the eternal optimism of Gomez (played by Brett Johnson), the sensual aura of Morticia (played by Sarah Johnson), or the disturbing recreational behavior of Wednesday and Pugsley (played by Isabelle Steele and Coen Beckstrand, respectively), each actor was secure and genuine in their performance and true to the original intent of the character. It cannot be easy to portray such popular characters, especially with so many notable, highly esteemed actors to use as comparison, but this cast rose to the occasion resulting in a feeling of familiarity from the moment they walked on stage.
With music and lyrics written by Andrew Lippa, the songs in The Addams Family may not be the most memorable, but that did not distract from the actors’ flawlessly executed. Music director Karlie Ady did impressive work in getting the all-volunteer cast to master the score. Of note, Steele’s angelic voice was quite the juxtaposition against her dark and brooding demeanor. In addition, the ensemble, comprised of ghostly ancestors (including Medusa and Bonnie and Clyde), added incredible strength and depth to the songs. Every musical performance was simply stunning.
Lead costumer Jan Williams did outstanding work creating the visual look of this show. Of course, Morticia wore her signature skin-tight black dress, and Gomez had his pinstriped suit. However, what was most fun to observe was the contrast between them and the Beineke family. Lucas Beineke (Wednesday’s fiancé, played by Ethan Hoffman) wore red Converse sneakers matching those of Pugsley, presumably to seem cool around his future brother-in-law. Alice Beineke (played by Mollee Steele) wore a bright yellow dress and radiated sunshine. And Mal Beineke (played by Craig Hovorka) looked like an all-American dad in khaki pants, a button-down shirt and sweater vest. Visually, the costume choices added distance between the two families, making it seem impossible that the union between Wednesday and Lucas would ever be a good idea.
Choreographer Heather Sessions was able to create movements that worked well for the space, and all cast members were well rehearsed and moved in harmony. One change that could be made to the tango dance sequence would be allowing Morticia and Gomez to dance alone before adding the rest of the ensemble. Such a large ensemble made it challenging to appreciate the dancing between the lead couple.
It is always impressive to observe how set constructors and scenic designers utilize conservatively sized spaces. Scenic designer Sadie Day included details, like the wallpaper and hanging framed pictures, that were a feast for the eyes and a nice backdrop for the performers. The set was brilliant at creating a moody atmosphere, while still giving ample space for those on stage.
The hero of the entire night could easily be lighting designer Derek Raynor. The lighting was almost its own character and brought an intensity to the production and enhanced the overall experience greatly. And, as a patron that is prone to seizures, it cannot be stated loudly enough the appreciation for the signs in the lobby warning of flashing lights that may be triggering to those with photosensitive epilepsy. Such warnings are a clear indication to this frequent theatre goer that the production company truly cares about its audience members.
If one improvement could be made to the technical aspects of the production, it would be the sound quality. The sound from the speakers above were clear and at a good volume. A few actors had persistent issues with their microphones, which resulted in a muffled or inaudible voices at times.
The Addams Family teaches that no one needs to sacrifice their sense of self or their convictions to get along with those who may be different. In The Addams Family, it is possible to be inclusive and to be true to one’s self. Readers should be aware, though that it is laced with innuendos, depictions of violence, drug use, and even mention of burning Mormon missionaries. This production may not be for all audiences. It will, however, certainly be a treat for those who appreciate a darker sense of humor that is synonymous with this beloved group of characters.