Categories: Featured Arts

‘Addams Family’ creepy, kooky and grand

San Jose Stage Company wraps its current season with a smorgasbord of outstanding local talent in a sparkling two-snaps-up musical production of “The Addams Family.”
The actors and creative team truly capture the off-kilter Charles Addams zeitgeist of the original New Yorker cartoons. Infused with Andrew Lippa’s lighthearted score and razzle dazzle moves courtesy of Carmichael (CJ) and Brett Blankenship’s spirited choreography, this South Bay evening delivers a ghoulishly good time.
Leads Allison F. Rich and Johnny Moreno feel born to their roles. She perfectly snaps her statuesque musical comedy curves into Morticia’s steel-rod posture, arched eyebrow and dry ice delivery. His Gomez is dashingly, giddily over-the-top, juggling familial dysfunction with a cock-eyed boyish bravura.
The other stouthearted Addams men include D. Scott McQuiston, whose Uncle Fester exudes a wonderfully fae impish quality, particularly in his spotlight-moonlight number; Zac Schuman’s Pugsley, an endearing kid brother wrapped in a cigar smoking, bomb tossing wild child; and the already imposing will Springhorn Jr. who takes moan-o-syllabic Lurch to even greater heights.
On the femme side, Courtney Hatcher is a wonderfully warped Wednesday, an angsty and defiant daughter with powerful pipes, who craves a new normal but loves her family. Donna Federico’s Grandma Addams is a finely calibrated mix of wisdom, vulgarity and stoner sass in a crazy lady wrapper.
Summoned from their not so eternal rest, the Addams ancestors are a truly heavenly ensemble of leading role talent: Carmichael (CJ) Blankenship, Nicole Frydman, Brian Herndon (also “on hand” as Thing), Adrienne Herro, Britney Monroe and Jordan Sidfield.
Visually, the cast is a verisimilitudinous synthesis of every pop culture image accrued to the brand. It’s a quality burnished by Abra Berman’s spectacularly spot-on costumes for every character and Michael Cook’s marvelous Edward Gorey-inspired monochromatic set.
As the “normals” trapped in Addams-ville, Jeffrey Bryan Adams as Lucas Bieneke is a strong-singing but conflicted suitor for Wednesday, and his parents Mal (Edward Hightower) and the poetry spouting Alice (Elise Youssef, delivering great vocals and lots of laughs) steer nicely clear of caricature while espousing and later deconstructing their family values.
The only fly in this otherwise rich ointment is three of the principal male performers suffer from limited vocal resources. Moreno has succeeded in roles of the sprechstimme oeuvre but here a more full-throated approach is needed, McQuiston was hit-and-miss reaching for the soft high notes of his playful songs, and Hightower needs a tighter belt.
Still, even a few notes short here, show after show, The Stage continually ups the ante for Bay Area musical theater production and this “Addams Family” sets a neat, sweet and not so petite new standard.

REVIEW
The Addams Family
Presented by San Jose Stage Company
Where: San Jose Stage, 490 S. First St., San Jose
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 pm Saturdays-Sundays; closes July 19
Tickets: $20 to $65
Contact: (408) 283-7142, www.thestage.org

Robert Sokol

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