THE ADDAMS FAMILYBook by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Based on the characters created by Charles Addams
Plaza Theatre Company
Director-G. AARON SILER
Musical Director-KEVIN BELT
Stage manager-LINDSAY HARDISTY
Set Design-WENDY SEARCY-WOODE
Costume Design-STORMY LEE
Lightning Design-CAMERON BARRUS
Make Up Design- MARIA BAUTISTA
Wig Design- McKENNA MEACHEM
Prop Design- SONI BARRUS
Sound design- G. AARON SILER
Specialty Props-MARK & DEB DANDRIDGE
Fester-G. AARON SILER
Ancestors - MEGAN A. LILES , McKENNA MEACHEM, RACHEL BROWNING, BAYLEE ARLEDGE, MATT VICTORY, TOBY Q, JESSE BOWRON, JACOB HUMPHRIES
Reviewed Performance: 8/10/2018
Reviewed by Eli Berke, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
For my first review as an Associate Theater Critic for John Garcia’s THE COLUMN; I was hesitant to accept my assignment to review a show from a small-town non-profit theatre company. Not that those titles should have any negative connotation, however in my experience small town theatre has always been a cringey occasion and one that leaves me hesitant to see the next small-town production. And while I know every theatre company is different, this reviewer found it very hard to leave so many sour tastes of past theatrical companies behind before entering this one. I should also mention this was my first time seeing The Addams Family musical. Ever. Nor had I heard any of the music before, save Crazier than You. So, seeing his production was both ripe for amusement, or another possibly bad taste.
And I was stupid to suspect the latter.
As you enter the arena style theatre at Dudley Hall, you’ll be transported into the inner home of the Addams Family, as seen by the ominous paintings and gloomy decor. As you're forced to venture further in to reach your seats, you’ll see the theatre’s darker walls push the eye to the center stage, where a playful cemetery sits, waiting for its next victim, err, I mean to say, long term resident. Fog and eerie pre-show lighting lend to the feeling that you’ll either leave entertained, or haunted. A testament to how well the design team has transformed the space from whatever it was before (I assume portraits of dead relatives and black lit tombstones aren't the usual furnishings) into a simple, yet efficient design.
On the subject of lighting however, I did find that the dark and gloomy was taken a tad too literal; a good portion of the show is quite dark and hard to see. I believe the expression of lighting can be achieved with color, while still properly lighting your subjects so it is insinuated that it is “dark”, instead actually being darker. This was less than optimal for a majority of the audience the night I was in attendance. Looking out, about 70% of the audience were senior citizens, so for my 22-year-old eyes to have trouble, theirs had to too.
This production of The Addams features returning cast members from The Addams Family production previously done three years ago by Plaza, as well as newer faces. Returning members include Aaron Lett (Gomez), Caitlan Leblo (Morticia), Meredith Stowe (Wednesday) and Josh Leblo (Lurch). The cast is very well rounded and there isn’t a single performance that isn’t on the same high standard. The show is packed with surprises, from William Power (Pugsley) and his golden signing pipes, to Lurch (Josh Leblo) repeatedly stealing the show, to Wednesday and Lucas’s (Meredith Stowe and Jacob Taylor) off stage romance contributing to their on-stage chemistry. Watching, you can tell and admire from the very first tableau that each actor has meticulously worked to perfect their performance. Commitment to character for such a character driven show is always a must, and one that these people have succeeded at.
Ensembles can either make or break a show, and although generally cohesive and above average, this wasn’t the best work I’d ever seen. At times, (such as the “Tango De Amor”), the ensemble had difficulties with synchronizing their choreography and staying on beat. However, they served an effective purpose for the production and were more entertaining than a distraction. Morticia, as portrayed by Caitlan Leblo, deserves special notice, for her ability to keep a straight face when working with Aaron Lett (whom portrays Gomez). On her own she’s a marvelous singer and really brings out an entertaining performance for a part that could feasibly be done with half attempted effort. But she achieves it with a performance in a character that’s trade marked with a pensive grimace and low energy. And with Aaron Lett, their scenes together as Gomez and Morticia are packed with comedy, high stakes, and talented singing. Mr. Lett brings so much to this role, like pop culture dad jokes, and a physical energy the likes of an NFL running back. Whether he’s talking or singing, you must pay close attention. I was genuinely surprised to find that this man’s day job was as a UI developer, which I’m sure he loves his job, but in my opinion it’s a damn shame he doesn’t write “Professional Actor” on his tax return.
I chose to save directing for last because after everything has been stated, what more can be said for directing. As a director, your influence and dedication to the production should/can be seen in everything. And every right choice in this show can be seen leading back to the happy, light hearted soul that Director G. Aaron Siler brought to this production, whom you may also see in the role of Fester.
The show is very light hearted and just as fun to watch as I’m sure it was to produce. Numbers like “The Moon & Me” are a hilarious distraction from the drama of the show while songs like “Full Disclosure” leave you wondering what unmerited mayhem will happen next. The expert use of the space and actor commitment to their craft makes me question what this small-town gem is doing in Cleburne, Tx and not downtown Dallas? Delivering quality entertainment to their surrounding community, that’s what (to answer my own question)!
Lastly, I owe the members of The Addams Family and The Plaza Theatre Company an apology, for not having a more open mind prior to the show and if their quality of work was anything close to the bad experiences previously mentioned. From now on, this critic will jump at any opportunity to review another quality production by The Plaza Theatre Company.
Plaza Theatre Company
Adults - $25
Seniors (65+) - $23
Students (13 - College) - $23
Children (under 12) - $15
Group rates available for ten or more
All ticket prices show an included $4 facility charge
Address: 5604, 305 S Anglin St, Cleburne, TX 76031
More info @ plaza-theatre.com/show/2018/the-Addams-family