OPCT chooses a summer musical to close out their theatrical seasons, and for the 2014-2015 season, it’s that preposterously zany laugh riot, “The Addams Family,” which opened on June 5, 2015 and will run through June 28, 2015 at their playhouse on Moody Road in Orange Park, Florida.
The musical is based on the cartoons of the late Charles Addams, whose first published cartoon with the famous characters he created appeared in 1938 in “The New Yorker.” The characters became an enterprise unto themselves, with a sitcom, two animated series, three films, and pinball games.
The musical opened in 2010 in New York, and ran a respectable 772 performances because Addams Family fans loved it, although critics did not. The version you will see on the OPCT stage is not the original NYC show as it was revised, with songs added for a Chicago run. The musical has been a very successful choice for many community theatres, and the Orange Park production is one of the funniest we have seen at that theatre.
The story takes place in the enormous mansion of the Addams family, which is located in the middle of New York’s Central Park. The family is headed by Mr. and Mrs. Addams, with Matt Barnes as Gomez, the father, and Erin Barnes as Morticia, his wife. You may have noticed they have the same last name. Yes, they are married in real life and make the perfect stage couple, with fantastic chemistry between them. We enjoyed Matt’s polished vocal talents in “The Boys From Oz” and “Tick, Tick, … Boom!” both at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre; Erin has an excellent voice as well. You will love their duet and ballroom dancing in Act II.
Wednesday (Caitlin Charrier), the daughter of Gomez and Morticia, is an attractive young woman with unusual hobbies. She has a crossbow always at her side, and loves to shoot birds when she is not torturing Pugsley (Jared Wright), her likable younger brother. Charrier and Wright are picture perfect for the roles and also sing well.
The household has other eccentric members. The aged grandma is none other than OPTC President Sara Green but you will not recognize her in the guise of this funny lady, with decayed teeth and frumpy clothes.David Warber has established himself as OPTC’s resident comic actor. He is good in those roles. You may remember him as Howard in “Meshuggah Nuns”, Teddy in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and Max in “The Producers.” In The Addams Family, he has gone the extra mile to play Uncle Fester, who describes himself as fat, bald, and with no special sexuality. After accepting the role, Mr. Warber shaved his head to fit the character. Now, that is what we call dedication! Uncle Fester is in love with the moon and plans a trip to visit.
The final members of the family include the butler, Lurch, with long tall David Cannedy as the scary man in the tuxedo, who mainly grunts until the final scene in Act II, when he will sing (well sort of), and Ethan Wells as Cousin Itt.
A crisis is introduced early in the play, as Wednesday has fallen in love with Lucas (Brandon Leporati), a handsome and quite normal young man. You may recall this Orange Park High School student from his previous part as Charlie in OPTC’s “Willy Wonka.” He has a wonderful singing voice.
Visiting the Addams are the seemingly normal parents of Lucas, who have been invited to dinner. Matt Urban as Mal Beineke and Aimee Low as his wife Alice look like a typical suburban couple, until the demure Alice displays her wild side, after ingesting an herbal potion prepared by Grandma.
There are many one-line jokes delivered by members of the family, often by Gomez and his wife. Uncle Fester even manages to work in a joke about current hot personality Bruce Jenner.
One of the delights of this show is what Director Tim DeBorde, Music Director Brenda Cohn, and Choreographer Melissa Losure have done with the awesome ancestors who reside in an adjacent graveyard. They are a constant presence as dancers and singers throughout the entire show. They look marvelous in various costumes reflecting their station while alive: they include, among others, a Confederate soldier, a flapper, and a caveman. Kudos to Costume Designer Barbara Wells, who also worked with Jessica Harris and Jennifer Esposito doing the hair and makeup.
The talented ghosts include: Steve Cohn, Rick Cubbedge, Erika Fuentes (who is also Dance Captain), Jessica Harris, Shelley Hayes, Emily Poehlman, Hope Rendell, Benjamin Scott, Isabelle Scott, John Shedd and Breanna Shuman.
The set design by Tim and Tom DeBorde captured the domain of this other-worldly family perfectly.
This is a musical with twenty-four songs, most very comic. None will ever make the hit parade but they are a lot of fun. We heard many good voices during the course of the evening. Matt and Erin Barnes are especially well-trained singers.
The Addams Family is a whole lot of fun for the entire family. Don’t miss it. OPCT is located at 2900 Moody Road in Orange Park; call 904 276-2599 or visit opct.org for reservations.