‘The Addams Family’ at The Kennedy Center by Doug Poms

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The Addams Family, the kooky clan that was first the subject of Charles Addams cartoons in the New Yorker, then featured on a popular television sitcom, and more recently a couple of Hollywood films, have finally made it to the stage in a Broadway musical currently on tour at the Kennedy Center. For fans of this wacky family, there are certainly some delights in seeing them all come to life on stage, singing and dancing in a colorful production in which the cast works hard to entertain and extract all the laughs they can. They succeed some of the time in doing so, especially in the superior second act, but unfortunately the material they have to work does not always merit this talented ensemble.

Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) in 'The Addams Family.' Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

The score by Andrew Lippa (who also wrote the music for one version of The Wild Party) is a mixed bag comprised of some fun lively tango numbers sprinkled with bland filler songs, and not a single one coming to close to the fun provided by the iconic theme song from the TV show that is used to open and close the show. The Lippa score is not as original or clever as the characters that sing it, but the music does get a real boost from the strong orchestrations provided by Larry Hochman.

There is one truly great number in the score –“The Moon and Me” sung by Uncle Fester. It is a charming love song that is both witty and funny and also highlights the show’s top notch production values benefiting from the puppetry injected by Basil Twist.

Another drawback is the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, which does not offer much in the way of story. Wednesday, the daughter in the family has become secretly engaged to her far more conventional beau, Lucas Beineke. Lucas and his family come to the Addams Family’s manor to meet Wednesday’s family and chaos ensues, much like in many of the episodes of the TV sitcom version of the show. The show is filled with sight gags that can be funny but wear thin over time. The best of these is Cousin Itt’s dalliance with the similar looking tassel from the show’s curtain.

On the plus side, the show looks great. The set and costumes by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott are colorful and amusing. The lighting by Natasha Katz is effective.

Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley), Pippa Pearthree (Grandma), Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia), Douglas Sills (Gomez), Tom Corbeil (Lurch), Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday) and Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) in 'The Addams Family.' Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley), Pippa Pearthree (Grandma), Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia), Douglas Sills (Gomez), Tom Corbeil (Lurch), Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday) and Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) in 'The Addams Family.' Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

The cast is very strong. Douglas Sills plays an excellent Gomez Addams and is a joy to watch in the number “Trapped.” Sara Gettelfinger is good as Morticia Addams. Courtney Wolfson as Wednesday Addams has a very strong voice and quirky charm that shine in “Crazier Than You.” Patrick Kennedy is adorable as Pugsley Addams, and he really delivers in “What If” while Gaelen Gilliland exhibits some solid comic chops as Alice Beineke. But it is Blake Hammond who steals the show as Uncle Fester. He infuses his character with warmth and humor and wins over the audience every time he sings.

All in all, the Kennedy Center’s production of The Addams Family is fun for the whole family provided by a hard-working and talented cast that do the best they can with the mixed Halloween bag of goodies they have to work with.

Running Tme: Approximately two hours and 35 minutes, with one intermission.

The Addams Family plays through July 29th in the Kennedy Center Opera House – 2700 F St NW, in Washington, D.C. For tickets call (202) 467-4600, or purchase them at online.