THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Book by Marshall Brickman & Eric Elice
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by – Bill Sizemore
Assistant Director – Emily-Ann Moriarty
Musical Director – Josh Bradford
Choreographer – Nik Blocker
Stage Manager – Jessica Graham
Set Design – Alex Krus
Costume Design – Ashley Peisher
Wig Design – Mia Leavell
Make-up Design – Bill Sizemore
Lighting Design – Ken Davis
Props Design – Elaine Plybon
Robert San Juan – Gomez Addams
Amy Parsons – Morticia Addams
Tony Adams – Uncle Fester
Christine Chambers – Grandma
Haven Isom – Wednesday Addams
Alexander Lilly – Pugsley Addams
Gary Payne – Lurch
Steve Schreur – Mal Beineke
Nancy Bartke – Alice Beineke
Ethan Armstrong – Lucas Beineke
Nicole Carrano – Bride of Frankenstein
Jerrin Ray Prince – Hamlet
Summer Perrin – Joan of Arc
Jorge Lara – Sherlock Holmes
Devan Harris – Marie Antoinette
Jermaine Lobaugh – Merlin
Crys Kelly – Bonnie Parker
George William Phillips III – Clyde Barrow
Reviewed Performance: 9/29/2017
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I will confess that I was never a big fan of TV shows like The Munsters and The Addams Family. It wasn’t the silly spookiness. I mean, I was (and still am) a fan of Scooby Doo, but I could just never get into them. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy The Addams Family - the musical version - currently running at the Runway Theatre in Grapevine.
The book is nothing to write home about. It’s the same old “couple falls in love but their families are too different so how will they ever be able to get married” storyline that has been hashed and re-hashed to death in plays, books, and movies. I actually kept thinking how close it was to the animated film, Hotel Transylvania. Plus, the writing was choppy and I kept wondering where THAT transition came from (usually out of nowhere). Happily, under the fine direction of Bill Sizemore, the music, choreography, and wonderful cast got me through it.
Robert San Juan is perfectly cast as the always amorous Gomez. His complete adoration of Morticia was fabulous, and when he had to choose between upsetting his daughter or lying to his wife, the confusion he felt was completely believable. San Juan has a strong baritone singing voice and excellent facial expressions, and he’s quite the dancer, too! He knows how to sell the humor and the pathos, depending on the situation, and he isn’t afraid to concede the stage to his co-stars at appropriate moments. He was a joy to watch in this role.
Amy Parsons makes Morticia completely her own...which actually doesn’t quite work when playing a well-known character like this. Unlike San Juan’s Gomez, there was very little similarity to TV’s Morticia, and I missed the homage she could easily have made. I did enjoy her smooth alto singing voice, and her tango with Gomez was one of the best moments in the show! Kudos to choreographer Nik Blocker!
Haven Isom is a delight as Wednesday Addams. Her strong belt combined with her intentionally expressionless face resulted in lots of laughs. Her chemistry with Ethan Armstrong’s Lucas Beineke adds to the exceptional performance, as the two are very fun to watch together. Armstrong plays his role with a laid-back slacker feel that contrasts nicely with the attitudes of his parents.
Nancy Bartke and Steve Schreur do an excellent job as Lucas’ uptight parents. Bartke’s Alice goes seamlessly from tightly wound to letting her hair down, all while singing, while Schreur’s gruff bewilderment evolves easily to being completely in love with his wife again. Their nuanced performances are spot on.
Gary Payne’s Lurch was hilarious in all that he didn’t do. His grunting and general disdain for those around him made his final moments of song even more entertaining. Christine Chambers played Grandma with a stereotypical old lady voice and waddle that was just right. Tony Adams’ Uncle Fester was charmingly sweet as he acted as both narrator and cupid.
Alexander Lilly was absolutely remarkable as Pugsley Addams. This kid can SING! It helps, of course, that his songs are by far the funniest in the show, but he completely sells them with his powerhouse of a voice and wide-eyed facial expressions. Lilly has a very bright future ahead of him in this business and is someone about whom I expect to be able to say, “I remember him when....”
Also remarkable were the Ancestors, who acted as not only the chorus but also as the backdrop of the show. They were almost always onstage and never distracted, even when just carefully watching the action from their picture frames, and even while making sly faces at what everyone was doing. Their intricate harmonies and well-executed choreography added greatly to the proceedings. Once again, choreographer Blocker deserves high praise, as does musical director Josh Bradford, who brings out the best in his singers, whether they’re doing tight harmonies as ensembles or singing solos. Overall the band is quite good, too, although, as with nearly all live bands in small spaces like Runway, they were often too loud.
The Ancestors also got the best costumes; Ashley Peisher is to be commended for their detailed ghostliness. Sizemore pulled double duty with the brilliantly executed makeup design, and Mia Leavell’s wig design partnered with it all to complete the effect. All of the characters looked perfect for their roles thanks to these three.
Alex Krus’ set was complete with see-through masking for the raised band, along with moveable curving staircases and a working swing to provide a useful, multi-purpose space. Ken Davis’ lighting design provided the expected spooky effects, and Elaine Plybon’s props were effective as well.
One hiccup that apparently affected the show was that some of the materials used in the costumes caused Ancestor Jorge Lara to have an allergic reaction, and he was consequently unable to perform as Sherlock Holmes, although it is his hand we see throughout and I assume he still sings the role (just from backstage). If I hadn’t known that there were supposed to be eight Ancestors, I would never have suspected someone was missing, as everything seemed to run smoothly with the seven of them.
Runway Theatre’s production of The Addams Family isn’t going to make you think, and you may roll your eyes (as my guest and I did) at the overdone plot, but hopefully (like we did) you’ll tap your toes and snap your fingers and have an enjoyable evening seeing them do it well. And you don’t even have to be a fan of the TV show or any of the movies to have a good time with it!
THE ADDAMS FAMILY
215 N. Dooley St., Grapevine, Texas 76051
Runs through October 22
Actual days: Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm
Tickets are $22-25
For information and to purchase tickets, go to http://runwaytheatre.com/ address or call the box office at (817) 488-4842.