Arts theater review

The world in varying shades of gray

You need a little bit of darkness to see all the stars on stage

The Addams Family 
Written by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Rachel Thornton ’18
Next Act
April 12 – April 14

Next Act’s latest production moves away from the darkness and towards the spotlight in this amusing rendition of The Addams Family. This macabrely funny musical takes us on a closer look at the titular family. In fact, you have the first scene unabashedly introduce everyone as they come to the cemetery to celebrate all the Addams: living, dead, or undecided. Gomez (Rupayan Neogy ’19) starts off the musical with “When You’re an Addams.” Dancing in the background are: Morticia (Victoria Longe ’18), Wednesday (Cecilia Esterman ’21), Pugsley (Sammy Luo ’18), Uncle Fester (Srini Raghuraman Grad Student), Grandma (Olivia Saouaf ’19), and Lurch (Joey Noszek ’20).

With a little help from the pit orchestra, which is conveniently next door, the Addams reveal all the ways that they are different from the modern American family. They revel in the dark and frightening. Their definition of a fun family night is heading into the graveyard as all the undead arrive. Needless to say, this isn’t your typical Brady Bunch. 

On the other hand, the main cast is such a charming group of people that you grow to love them for who they are. You can’t help but smile when Wednesday lovingly totes her crossbow around the stage. In that regard, even Gomez and Morticia’s peculiar relationship is something to appreciate. No longer the shadowy master of the house that the film depicts, this Morticia is unapologetically the head of the house. Powerful yet loving, Morticia obviously holds enough power to both manage the family and all of its ghosts. Contrast this with the more sniveling Gomez, who spends his days practicing fencing with the butler. Everyone and everything seem to have a place in this cheerfully dismal world. 

That is, of course, until Wednesday falls in love with Lucas Beineke, a normal person from Ohio. In an attempt to bring the Addams and the Beinekes together, the two lovebirds plan a dinner at the Addams house. Of course, the best-laid of rats and zombie men oft go awry. A mistaken potion, a unpredictable storm, and a general disruption of relationships all flip the world upside down. 

All the characters spend the rest of the play trying to navigate this tricky labyrinth called genuine human connection. You’ll see brother and sister reconcile, couples split, and marriages renew. It’s a nuanced thing, balancing the intrinsically difficult part of life with the characteristic comedy of the production. Despite the musical’s shift into the most tense part of the story, it never fails to showcase all of the humor that so defined it. Never skipping a beat, the musical jumps from Fester’s love letter to the moon in “The Moon and Me” to the impressive choreography in “Tango de Amor,” in which Gomez and Morticia tango their way back into each other’s hearts. I have to commend the work of the choreographer, Lindsey Orgren, who found a way to animate each scene with inventive dance pieces. In addition, commendations must be said of the lighting, which gives an otherworldly tone to the scenes, making the Addams seem even more different from your average Joe. 

All in all, The Addams Family is a heartwarming tale of family and the people that come into our lives, whether they’re alive or not.