The Addams Family musical at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson isn’t creepy or kooky, mysterious or particularly spooky—but it is a lot of fun. A surprisingly down-to-earth musical about a family dealing with change in the most absurd ways possible, The Addams Family is sure to warm the hearts of everyone in attendance.
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All of the iconic characters from Charles Addams’ cartoons are present. There’s patriarch Gomez (played by Matt Senese), wife Morticia (TracyLynn Conner), Uncle Fester (Rick Grossman), daughter Wednesday (Jessica Murphy), son Pugsley (Max Venezia), Grandma (Ginger Dalton), Lurch (James Taffurelli) and Cousin Itt (Cameron Turner). Uncle Fester breaks the fourth wall to fill the audience in on story details, namely that Wednesday has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke (Matt Paredi), a “normal” boy, and that his parents Mal (Steve Ayle) and Alice (Linda May) are coming over for dinner.
Wednesday is nervous about the conservative Beinekes meeting her macabre-loving family, and even more nervous to announce that she and Lucas are engaged. She discloses her engagement to Gomez and makes him promise not to tell Morticia, which leads to all sorts of hijinks—secrets come out in the funniest ways possible, the Beinekes are alternately horrified and intrigued by the Addams’ eccentric ways, a storm keeps anyone from leaving the Addams’ mansion and Pugsley takes drastic measures to keep Wednesday from leaving the family.
The Addams Family is directed by Theatre Three’s Executive Artistic Director Jeff Sanzel, and his staging is fast, fluid and effective. Randall Parsons’ set, which employs rotating, moving pieces to represent the Addams’ mansion, Central Park and the family cemetery, makes for clever transitions.
Senese, Conner and Murphy have the most to do as Gomez, Morticia and Wednesday, and all three actors are more than up to the task. Senese and Conner share a fun chemistry and easy rapport, while Murphy’s strong singing voice shines in various songs, including “One Normal Night.”
Conner does not miss a beat playing Morticia with all the idiosyncrasies one would expect of the character while still humanizing her as a devoted wife and caring mother. Grossman is hilarious as Uncle Fester, who constantly stops the show with one-liners and random impressions—his Alfred Hitchcock is spot-on. The ensemble—presented as ghostly Addams ancestors who are unable to return to the world of the dead until Wednesday and Lucas are united in love—is full of strong dancers and singers.
The show itself doesn’t take too many risks, but it doesn’t have to; the characters are charming and familiar, while the story is the stuff of an audience-pleasing sitcom. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s script is laced with jokes, most of which are family friendly but with an extra edge that adults will appreciate.
Andrew Lippa’s songs are at their best when they feel like songs only the Addams family could sing; “One Normal Night,” “Just Around the Corner” and the rousing opening and finale, “When You’re An Addams” are positively delightful.
Some songs, such as “The Moon and Me,” a love song Uncle Fester sings to the moon, sound lovely but feel as though they could be in any musical. Still, this two-hour show moves at a nice, thoroughly enjoyable pace.
The Addams Family is easy to recommend to theatergoers looking for a traditional, crowd-pleasing romp. While the story is predictable and at times overly familiar, Theatre Three’s production is top-notch, with a strong cast and clever production design. By the end of the night, you’ll be snapping your fingers to the familiar theme. Go pay them a call.
The Addams Family plays through October 27 at Theatre Three, 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson. For tickets and more information, call 631-928-9100 and visit theatrethree.com.