‘Addams Family’ musical is fun for all
The actors selected to portray members of a well-known but wierd family were the right choice by director G. Aaron Siler for the Plaza Theatre Company’s production of “The Addams Family,” a new musical comedy playing through Sept. 1 at the Plaza Theatre at Dudley Hall in Cleburne.
Perfect because almost every audience member in the 260-seat theater in the round arrived with a preconceived idea of what each character should look and sound like because the family, made famous by American cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938 in The New Yorker, became beloved in the 1960s when adapted for television, then developed a new generation of fans in the 1990s with feature films, starring Raúl Juliá and Angelica Huston.
They all fit and they’re all a hit, led by Aaron Lett as patriarch Gomez Addams and, as matriarch Morticia Addams, the wonderful Caitlan Leblo, whose great voice shows no signs of weakening after four weeks in the PTC’s previous production of “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”
The story takes place in the Addams Family mansion near New York City’s Central Park, where daughter Wednesday (Meredith Stowe) meets and falls in love with Lucas (Jacob Taylor), an all-American boy from Ohio. Wednesday tells her father, Gomez, that she and Lucas are secretly engaged but she wants Gomez to keep this information from her mother, Morticia, until she proves the two families can be civil by hosting a “normal” dinner party for Lucas and his parents.
The laughs start when Grandma (“Smoke on the Mountain” trilogy veteran Camille Shaw) introduces a street vendor’s cart of macabre stuff, including potions that, when swallowed, cause personalities to be altered and dark secrets to be revealed. When Wednesday’s younger brother Pugsley (William Power) steals some potions, things get interesting.
As in all PTC productions, it’s important to watch the facial expressions of the actors in the spotlight and just out of the spotlight, such as when Alice Beineke, (Lucas’ mom, played by Courtney Mitchell) takes a drink and starts to unravel.
Lett does a great job conveying the tension of being torn between his promise to his daughter to keep her secret and his love and devotion to his wife. His timing and facial expressions are spot-on as he casually delivers some of the funniest lines in the show.
When you get right down to it, The Addams Family is really myriad love stories in one: love between husband and wife; love of a father for his daughter; love between siblings; young love; unrequited love, and love amongst family members, as pointed out in the playbill by director Siler, who also manages to handle a leading role as Uncle Fester.
Josh Leblo (real-life husband to Caitlan Leblo) is funny in his role as Lurch, the butler who doesn’t say anything until revealing his outstanding singing voice near the final curtain.
Lots of credit should be given to musical director Kevin Belt and choreographer Brittany Jenkins for orchestrating good song and dance numbers, and to costume designer Stormy Witter and her costume construction assistant Hope Arendse for the clever costumes. And to Wendy Rene Searcy for a clever set, constructed by Parker Barrus, Jesse Bowron and Nolan Moralez.
With a first act of one hour and 10 minutes, and a second act of 55 minutes, it’s only the 15-minute intermission that drags by. The rest of the evening is lots of fun.
The Addams Family – from a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Saturdays, through Sept. 1 at the new Plaza Theatre Company at Dudley Hall, 305 S. Anglin St. in Cleburne.
Tickets — $25 for adults, $23 for age 65 and older and high school and college students, and $15 for youth age 13 and under — can be purchased online at www.plaza-theatre.com, or at the box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, or by phone at 817-202-0600.