By Sheila Barth
A nod of the shroud to North Shore’s Stage 284 for its two-act, two-hour finger-snapping, fun production of musical comedy ”The Addams Family”. Based on Charles Addams’ cartoons, the spoofy, spooky, kooky family play resurrects the popular 1960‘s TV wacky, weird, family, and their creepy, abnormal, anti-societal demeanor.
The musical’s underlying theme isn’t paranormal, though. It tackles more down-to-earth topics -what actually is normal, whether young love can survive under abnormal conditions, and whether two, contrasting married couples can revive their long-standing love.
At Sunday afternoon’s performance (the show opened the day before, Oct. 14), there were some lighting and sound snafus consistent with opening weekend jitters. However, lighting designer Mike McTeague and sound designer Amy Tuck also unleashed some thunder-crashing effects.
Then, too it oftentimes was difficult to see the action on stage, despite set builders’ additional visible space on the stage balcony. Some theatergoers craned their necks or abandoned their seats, scrambling for elevated seats in the rear of the theater.
Popular North Shore Director Bobby Kerrigan wisely alleviated that situation further by placing the cast in the aisles, near theatergoers at times. The minimalist
set enabled the creatively-clad cast (kudos, costume designer Cat Stramer) to dance around the Addams Family’s crumbling estate bequeathed to them hundreds of years ago. They easily summon up multi-generational ancestors buried there, in an untrod area of Central Park.
The creepy setting is the unlikely place where Addams’ daughter, Wednesday, (impressive Danielle Lovasco, 17, of Beverly, who alternates performances with Casey Hatch) meets straight-laced, pragmatic, Lucas Beineke of Ohio (Alexander Heinrich), after almost hitting him accidentally with an arrow from her crossbow. That arrow missed, but their unlikely courtship blossomed. Wednesday invites Lucas and his parents, Mal and Alice, (Beverly married couple Sean and Kelly Murphy, who’s also the choreographer) to come for dinner and meet her family. She secretly enlists her adoring dad, Gomez, avoiding her mother Morticia (talented Kelly Duffy). She implores Gomez’s help, in having the family behave like normal folks, unlike her family’s bizarre sense of normalcy.
While Morticia is deathly glamorous, Kelly Murphy is outstanding as Alice, a suppressed Ohioan housewife, who speaks in rhymes and giggles like a hyena. Swashbuckling, sword-wielding Gomez is dramatically passionate, while Mel and Lucas are pragmatic. Their personalities clash but come together in song “(I’m) Crazier Than You”. Portraying Grandma, R. Vanda steals the spotlight several times, with wacky, wild antics, begging the question, whose mother is she anyway?
Wednesday didn’t have to enlist her hopelessly romantic Uncle Fester (lively Derek Clark). He even summons his cadre of grisly gray, wedding-type cadavers to aid the young lovers. Fester’s in love, too, he confesses – with the moon – singing his hummable, romantic song, “The Moon and Me”.
Music Director Joe Stroup and company kick off the play with a strong overture. They provide solid accompaniment, especially in ensemble tunes, “When You’re An Addams;” the upbeat “Full Disclosure,” during a table-turning, post-dinner game of truth-telling; and the cryptic, ancestral ghostly dance number, “One Normal Night”.
Portraying Addams dad/husband Gomez Addams, Kirk Vanda delivers a solid, comedic, performance, and tugs at heartstrings with his loving, fatherly lament, “Happy/Sad”. Jake Bassinger alternates performances with Owen Reimold in his role of Wednesday’s younger brother,Pugley; green-faced Will Rousmaniere towers over everyone, as the Addams’ family silent, occasionally grunting butler, Lurch,;and several youth ancestor ghosts and ghouls round out the cast.
BOX INFO: two-act, two-hour musical comedy, book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music, lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Continues through October 29 by community theater Stage 284, featuring a North Shore cast, at the Community House, 284 Bay Road, Route 1A, Hamilton: Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 28, at 3 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 29, at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets, $20, $30; at the door, $25,$35. stage284.org, 978-468-4818, Ext. 10.