Up for a twisted trip into the macabre world of the famed, now modernized, Addams Family this Halloween season? Well look no further than the Kensington Arts Theatre (KAT) and their current production of The Addams Family. Yes – that’s right – Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsly, Fester and the ghoulish gang are back and in full effect at KAT for their 2014-2015 season opener. You will not be disappointed as Director Craig Pettinati, Music Director Stuart Y. Weich, Choreographer Nicholas Carter. the cast and crew of designers dazzle in this kooky production, that has a fun book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and a score by Andrew Lippa.
The set is sleek and perfect for the small space. Set Designer Matt Karner with Special Effects Coordinator John Nunemaker and video provided by Broadway Motion Design, provide the ultimate eerie atmosphere for the show. Set pieces surround a large video screen that display animations to set each scene. Small furnishings are also used throughout, some of which are created by the imaginative staging of Director Pettinati using his ensemble, the Ancestors (Gabrielle Amaro, Nick Carter, Elizabeth Grace Colandene, Emily Dey, Dana Herson, Kyra Koh and Magali Palmer-Young), as props. Some of the best designs from Costume Designer Eleanor Dicks and makeup Designer Scott Beadle are also displayed by the Ancestors, each with a zombie-like appearance from past decades, adorned in garb from each era of the Addams family’s history.
Music Director and Conductor Stuart Y. Weich leads his orchestra well through the difficult music, especially shine during songs like “Happy Sad” and “Move Towards the Darkness.” The orchestra were effortlessly in sync with the performers throughout the show.
Leading the petrifying posse of Addams’ is Gomez (Bobby Libby) and the matriarch of the family, Morticia (Laura O’Brien). Libby is a force to be reckoned with on stage, his performance is so superb, it’s as if the role was written for him. His timing is flawless and his revitalizing characterization of the iconic role is truly remarkable to watch. He especially shines in the ballad, “Happy Sad” and in the song “Trapped,” where his undeniable comedic timing shows through.
Equally gifted is actress Laura O’Brien with her dignified portrayal of Morticia. O’Brien is elegant in her movement, and her straight-faced delivery of her lines leads to sidesplitting moments, especially in her interactions with Libby. The pair have a must see duet, “Live Before We Die”/Tango Amor” that illustrates there dynamic chemistry.
As their delightful “bundle of malice” turned ingénue (or perhaps anti-ingénue in this case) is Camryn Shegogue as Wednesday Adams. Shegogue is splendid as the love-crossed, angst-filled teen. Her rendition of “Pulled” is compelling and displayed Shegogue’s powerful soprano belt. Wednesday’s love interest, Lucas Beineke, is played endearingly by Ryan Burke. Burke’s incredible voice is introduced in the sway-inducing “One Normal Night.” It’s a shame that there aren’t enough moments in this show for his singing prowess to shine.
Rounding out the Beineke family are Lucas’ parents Alice (Lisa Carrier Baker) and Mal (Christopher Gillespie). The pair are unassuming at first, but each takes a turn down a path of reformation and show-stopping moments.
At first Carrier Baker comes across as a typical and simple mid-western wife, but her transformation in the song “Waiting” is one of those ‘pay to see’ moments that simply can’t be described here. Suffice to say, it was awesome! Not to be outdone, Christopher Gillespie as the hard-nosed Mal Beineke, lets it all hang out in the song “Crazier Than You,” another scene stealer.
Let us not forget some of the more peculiar characters in this bizarre bunch; Grandma (Liz Weber), Lurch (David “DJ” Wojciehowski), Pugsley (John Ray) and the formidable Chuck Dluhy as Uncle Fester. Each of these actors gives a quality performance, but Dluhy is sensational as Uncle Fester. His absurd ballad, “The Moon and Me” is beautiful and enjoyably creepy. John Ray also stands out as the adorable delinquent Pugsley. His voice is pure and beautiful as he sings “What If.”
The Addams Family will certainly rise in popularity as more theaters attempt to produce it. However, there will likely not be a production with the professional level of performances that Kensington Arts Theatre offers.
5 stars is really not enough for this ‘off-the-charts’ production. Grab your tickets soon because these ghouls will only be performing for three more weekends. Snap your fingers and then run and see this wonderful production of KAT’s The Addams Family!
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.
The Addams Family plays through November 22, 2014 at Kensington Arts Theatre— Kensington Town Hall – 3710 Mitchell Street, in Kensington, MD. For tickets call the box office at (206) 888-6642 or purchase them online.