Review: ‘The Adams Family’ by Rooftop Productions

Full Disclosure? The Addams Family was a wild romp for the whole family! I made my way down to Oldtown Manassas to see Rooftop Productions’ take on The Addams Family. The story feels like a great continuation of the television show. Wednesday Addams is all grown up and she wants to get married. The only problem is that her beau is a totally normal guy from Ohio. She invites her normal boyfriend and his parents to meet her family and hilarity ensues!

Sarah Jane Scott as Morticia and Jay Tilley as Gomez. Photo by Mieke Trudeau.

Sarah Jane Scott as Morticia and Jay Tilley as Gomez. Photo by Mieke Trudeau.

Director Ted Ballard keeps the pacing up on this quirky musical. The theatrics of a full Broadway musical are pared down successfully with a spartan, mostly stationary set, also designed by Ted Ballard. Lighting designed by Dale Walsh works well within the space, often surprising me with its level of detail. Costumes were designed by Mandy Ken and not only worked well with the show, but made everyone onstage look good. I was not disappointed by the lack of pit orchestra, and the recorded music was generally loud enough to blend well with the actors singing. The music director (Justin Streletz) gets in on the fun by wearing a ghoulish hooded cloak while conducting off-stage.

Leading the Addams’ clan as Gomez Addams is Jay Tilley. Tilley croons and dances his way across the stage, effortlessly bringing the character to life. His Gomez is a lovable, but fallible counterpoint to Sarah Jane Scott’s Morticia. The chemistry is spot-on and when Scott’s Morticia is angry, you can’t help but feel sorry for her. Scott is graceful and her gestures are both elegant and creepy – a winning combination for Morticia.

Their eldest child, Wednesday Addams, played by Abby Dahl, strikes a wonderful balance between the younger, more deadpan Wednesday we all know and love, and an older Wednesday worried that her family will embarrass her. Ryan Walker as Lucas is sweet and sincere. Walker’s Lucas and Dahl’s Wednesday are offbeat and quirky together; they may not make a lot of sense on paper as a couple, but once they’re together it is a pairing that makes perfect sense.

The cast of The Addams Family. Photo by Mieke Trudeau.

The cast of The Addams Family. Photo by Mieke Trudeau.

Wednesday’s brother Pugsly, played by Cooper Sheehy, and Grandma Addams, played by Betsy Hansen, both do a marvelous job playing updated versions of their characters.

A real stand-out is Daniel Holmes in the role of Uncle Fester. His Fester was charming and goofy, with a nuanced character voice for both speaking and singing. Holmes acts a little as a narrator and manages fourth-wall breaks with ease and great comedic timing. Lurch, played by Jack Zatkowsky, is an interesting casting choice due to his youth and relatively short height, but he executes the role with just the right amount of expressive grunts and gestures, and I feel that he really does the role justice.

Another relatively young person aged up for a role is Nathaniel Allen, portraying the role of Mal Beineke, the conservative father of Wednesday’s boyfriend, Lucas. Allen’s salt-of-the-earth, uptight, middle-aged father was very relatable and pairs well with Maudeleora Kaufman, playing his wife, Alice Beineke. Kaufman is understated and cheery at the beginning and her transformation during the show is incredibly fun to watch.

Rounding out the cast is a very talented ensemble of Addams Family ancestors: Stephanie Blakely, Jessica Cooperstock, Susan Flynn, Ashley Jeffers, Lauren Jerothe, Hayley Katarina, Rebecca Kiser and Ariel Noble. Their singing and dancing is a highlight of an already good show. All of the ancestors synchronized Gretchen Lamb’s intricate choreography while also helping out with scene changes. Blakely as Ancestor Cavewoman and Noble as Ancestor Flapper are particularly noteworthy; both elevate their scenes through their really fun reactions and mannerisms.

Definitely come early to get the best seats and be prepared to snap along to this “altogether kooky” musical!

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

The Addams Family plays through May 19, 2018, at the Kellar Theater at the Center for the Arts – 9419 Battle Street, in Manassas, VA. For tickets, call (703) 330-2787, or purchase them online.

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