Sometimes it feels like theatre trips are like buses. You can wait for one for ages and then you suddenly have loads arrive altogether. After my recent visit to the Theatre Royal to see Funny Girl, I was back again this week to watch The Addams Family Musical.
I’ve actually seen an amateur production of this show a few years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing it in a professional setting. My companion for the evening was my own little Wednesday Addams, Miss Mess, who through persistent soundtrack-playing has become quite a fan of the show.
In The Addams Family, Wednesday Addams is all grown up and has fallen in love – but her family don’t entirely approve. When Wednesday invites her new beau and his parents over for dinner, cue an evening filled with secrets, spooks, surprises and numerous torture devices in one night that is anything but normal.
Cameron Blakely and Samantha Womack were sublime as the joint heads of the Addams Family, Gomez and Morticia. Blakely is clearly a consummate professional and gave a thoroughly confident, charismatic performance. He was as equally adept with the comedy as he was with the more dramatic moments of the show. His rendition of “Happy/Sad” was one of the real emotional high points. It’s a song that I’m sure every doting parent can relate to and I have to admit there was a lump in my throat by the end.
(After the show Miss Mess and I popped round to the stage door and she was lucky enough to get an autograph from Cameron Blakely, which thoroughly made her night. She’s happily showing off her programme to anyone who will listen and boasting about getting her first ever autograph. So, thank you so much Mr Blakely for making one little girl incredibly happy. I know you must be tired after a show and just want to get home, so we really appreciate you taking the time.)
I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed Samantha Womack’s performance as Morticia. I can be a bit of a “theatre snob” and am often a bit cynical when I see a TV celebrity cast in a theatrical production. Womack’s performance really forced me to eat my words and revise my preconceptions as she was clearly perfectly at home on the stage. Her voice was beautiful and strong and her two solo numbers were right up there with my favourites from the show.
I have an unwritten rule about the theatre that you should only ever buy tickets to see a show, not a star. Too often I hear people complaining that they’d gone to watch their favourite performer and then been disappointed to see an understudy instead. However, I completely broke my own rule with The Addams Family by booking my tickets mainly so that I could see Carrie Hope Fletcher play Wednesday Addams. Luckily for me I was absolutely NOT disappointed.
I am a (not-so) secret fangirl of Carrie Hope Fletcher. (Seriously, not kidding, I wrote a whole blog post about it). I love her vlogs, her books and her theatrical work so I was very excited to see her perform live again. Her characterization as Wednesday was flawless and I would kill to have a singing voice like Carrie’s. I’ve heard her sing “Pulled” on her Youtube channel, but it simply could not compare to the joy of seeing Carrie perform it live.
More than anything I just found her enjoyment and enthusiasm for the show and the performance completely infectious. She is such a natural performer and I was (and still am) in complete awe. I really hope I can channel some of her energy and passion into my next amateur performance.
Grant McIntyre was an unexpected delight as Wednesday’s younger brother, Pugsley. I don’t think I’d really given much thought to the character of Puglsey before watching the show but McIntyre made sure he grabbed my attention and held on to it. His performance was full of character and his song “What If” was both hilarious and heartwarming.
The iconic character of Uncle Fester was portrayed brilliantly by Les Dennis. His years of experience in theatre and entertainment were clearly evident as he skilfully handled the audience with natural flair. His version of Fester was bizarre and brilliant and utterly adorable.
Valda Aviks was simply hilarious as the Addams family Grandma, who’s been around so long nobody can really remember which side of the family she comes from. She had some of the funniest moments in the show and I would have loved to have seen more from her.
Dickon Gough was strong and silent as the family butler, Lurch. You may be surprised upon reading the programme to discover that this predominantly non-speaking role is portrayed by someone with an operatic background, but believe me, it’s a slow-building gag that pays off brilliantly in the end. Gough may only have a few moments in the spotlight but he makes every single one count!
Oliver Ormson is charming as Wednesday’s new love interest, Lucas Beineke. Ormson had so much energy when performing, especially in the number Crazier Than You, which also showcased his voice perfectly. Lucas’s parents were played by Dale Rapley and Charlotte Page who both held their own in a cast filled with eccentric performances. Page has one of the most difficult vocal lines in the show, during the Full Disclosure seem, but she makes it look effortless.
The ensemble took on a life (or is that death) of their own as a ghostly group of Addams Ancestors. Each performer had their own unique character and style which they maintained throughout the show, as well as performing some brilliant choreography in the chorus numbers. It made for a really colourful, interesting viewing experience and half the time I didn’t know where to look!
It was also lovely to see some familiar faces from last year’s Chitty tour (Hi, Scott Paige and Kathryn Barnes). Do come back and visit us again soon, won’t you?
I’ve had the original Broadway cast recording for a couple of years now, and while I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favourites. There were some songs I love, some that I’m really not bothered about. It looks like the show has gone through some serious revisions since the original recording as most of the songs I didn’t like have been cut and have been replaced by some new ones that I really enjoyed.
I think a new original UK tour cast recording is in order – come on, let’s get a petition started!
The Addams Family Musical is recommend for children and adults aged 7 and over. As I mentioned, I took Miss Mess who has just turned 7 and I didn’t feel there was anything unsuitable for her to watch. There were a few innuendos and cheeky references, and I clocked one actual swear word, but I think most of it would have sailed over her head.
After watching The Addams family musical, I ‘ve discovered a whole new love for the show. This was a lively, fast paced production with lots of laughs and some truly fabulous performances. My overwhelming feeling during the curtain call was that I desperately didn’t want it to end and could happily have watched it all over again. I’m certain this is the kind of show you could watch numerous times and still discover something new.
The Addams Family is touring until November and you can find full details over on their official website.