The full moon is rising, the ancestors are emerging from their slumbers, and Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre is offering up a creepily fun and spookily hilarious musical comedy version of The Addams Family through July 5, 2015.
The fun began the moment the orchestra, under the capable leadership of Music Director Karen Keating, launched into the overture with strains of the familiar Addams Family theme. With a cheeky wave of her baton, Keating welcomed the audience as temporary orchestra members for the familiar snaps, setting a tone for a fun and fanciful journey to the dark side of comedy.
Kudos to costume and scenic coordinators Jennifer Flitton Adams and William McConnell Bozman for effectively implementing Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott’s brilliant and macabre designs. The sets are lush and creepily gorgeous, recreating the Addams family crypt, the park, the torture chamber, and many other familiar scenes of Addams Family lore. The costumes are scrumptious and on point, adding life and depth to Gomez (Jordan B. Stocksdale), Morticia (Sarah Summerwell), Wednesday (Josy Christian), Pugsley (Lily Fidler), Grandma (Freya Falkenstein), Lurch (Russell Rinker), Uncle Fester (Rafael Martinez-Salgado), and a host of extremely talented, creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky Addams Family ancestors.
The book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice is slight and the plot is simple, fueled by an Andrew Lippa score that is catchy and provides a few memorable numbers. Malice-driven daughter Wednesday Addams is in love, and chaos ensues when she invites her fiancé (a charmingly earnest Sam Bostic) and his parents (delightfully neurotic William Dale Rowland and scene-stealing Haley Ondrejka) home to meet the mysterious and spooky and eminently not normal Addams Family.
Director Carolyn Coulson offers up a charming, fast-paced production that is filled with laughs, some tender moments, and quite a few sexy and clever nuances. The puppetry by Basil Twist is subtle and adds a touch of magic to the proceedings, especially when Thing appears to open the curtain at the top of Act One and Cousin Itt falls in love with one of the curtain tassels. Choreographer Edward Carignan and his incredibly talented ensemble deliver some top-notch production numbers, particularly in “When You’re an Addams,” “Just Around the Corner,” and “Tango de Amor.” William Pierson’s lighting design added to the air of mystery surrounding the Addams home.
As Gomez Addams, Jordan B. Stocksdale anchors The Addams Family with a sparkling, mischievous, and seductive performance. He proves his comic chops in “Trapped” and evokes a softer, more melancholy sadness of the devoted father in “Happy/Sad.” Stocksdale is well matched by Sarah Summerwell as the darkly luscious and potentially deadly Morticia. Josy Christian channels the deeply brooding angst of Wednesday beautifully, wowing the audience with her beautiful belt in “Pulled” and “One Normal Night.”
There are a number of stand-out feature performances in The Addams Family, most notably Freya Falkenstein, who delivered Grandma’s lines with sarcasm and a keen sense of comic timing, particularly in “What If” and “Full Disclosure.” Haley Ondrejka delivered a scene-stealing turn in “Waiting” as her uptight rhyming Alice discovered her, shall we say, darker side.
Russell Rinker used his lanky body to full effect as the (nearly) wordless Lurch, providing great moments of physical comedy.
Rafael Martinez-Salgado exuded joy as the slightly insane narrator of the piece, Uncle Fester. His comedic timing is spot-on and every joke was delivered with finesse. One of the highlights of the evening was Martinez-Salgado’s “The Moon and Me” – a magical (and hilarious) ballad to Uncle Fester’s true love, the moon. Martinez-Salgado delivered the goods in a performance that was both touching and funny.
Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre’s production of The Addams Family is spooky fun for the entire family, fueled by a gorgeous set, sumptuous costumes, and a hard-working and extremely talented cast.
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 35 minutes, with one intermission.
The Addams Family plays through July 5, 2015 at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, performing at the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre – 1460 University Drive in Winchester, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (540) 665-4569 or 877-580-8025, or purchase them online.