Brickman & Elice Revive Comedy/Horror Love Story
by Patricia L. Morin
As the old TV theme song goes: “They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky,” and never lost for words or songs. The magnanimous and quirky Addams family entertains us from a mansion in the middle of Central Park.
The optimistic love bug Uncle Fester (Pat Barr) announces that their lower Crypt is closed to the whole damned family until someone finds love. And quicker than lightning strikes, the romantic adventure unfolds.
The stunning painted mural on the backwall, designed and built by Michael Walraven, depicts a huge haunted Victorian mansion. The mansion is shrouded in dark blues with spiral steps leading down to the Crypt door, center stage.
Twisted black trees with long branches accent the eerie setting. Lighting by Frank Sarubbi and Marilyn Izdebski enhances the varying moods in each scene.
We meet the grand 20-member ensemble in the first song, “When You’re an Addams.” The lively orchestra (Wiesen, Wray, Bretan, Cook), led by Judy Wiesen, rocks from the twist to tangos to tear-jerking ballads.
It’s the stereotypical plot: a not-so-ordinary young woman falls in love with a hum-drum young man. This young man is a tourist from Ohio, visiting New York with his parents
Crossbow-archer and pigeon killer from the underworld, ghoulish Wednesday Addams, (sharp-witted Harriette Pearl Fugitt) falls for unassuming Lucas (trusting John Diaz). Fugitt’s mellifluous voice resounds through the audience in “Pulled,” because she’s pulled in a new direction.
Easy-going Lucas offsets Wednesday’s conniving diabolical nature, attracting her to non-ghoulish goals; although he still longs to cut into humans to examine their inner workings.
As father and husband, Gomez (masterful Bruce Vieira) feels constrained. He promises to keep Wednesday’s big secret from his demanding wife Morticia (versatile Alison Peltz). He confesses his angst in the powerful, yet comical song “Trapped”: “I’m trapped, like a crypt in the ground and theatre in the round, I’m trapped.”
Vieira and Peltz connect energetically and form a dynamic pair. They ignite the stage with their tangos and playful verbal exchanges about life, death, and secrets.
Wednesday’s and Lucas’ families mix like blood and baking powder. His Ohio parents, poetry-reciting Alice (delightful Jan Harrinton) and her suspicious husband, Mal (stoic David Shirk) unfold their feelings in the light-hearted “Crazier Than You.”
Gomez, and the whole Addams family offer present-day, clever remarks in Andrew Lippa’s witty lyrics, sometimes catching us pleasantly off-guard. As he swishes his sword back and forth, Gomez declares, “Ohio? A swing state.” Potion-selling Grandma (quirky Kayla Gold) admonishes annoying Pigsley (persistent Robin Kraft): “Stop the texting and pick up a book once in a while.”
As Fester sings, “The Moon and Me,” a touching love ballad, he quips about its being his best long-distance relationship.
Director/Choreographer Marilyn Izdebski wins high praise for melding songs and dances, with the whimsical natures of the Addams family. Ghostly ancestors from the past, locked out of the Crypt, dance vaudeville style, adding an eerie feel— an amazing feat!
Tracy Redig’s inventive costumes capture the essence of ghouls, reflecting all the Halloween characters of the Gothic era.
Come enjoy this masterpiece, an oldy renewed, and laugh your hearts out.
“The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, music & lyrics by Andrew Lippa, directed by Marilyn Izdebski, sound effects by Bruce Vieira, at Novato Theater Company, Novato, California. Info: NovatoTheater.org – to October 8, 2023.
Cast: Pat Barr, John Diaz, Harriette Pearl Fugitt, Kayla Gold, Jane Harrington, Robin Kraft, Todd Krish, David Shirk, Alison Peltz, and Bruce Vieira.
The Ancestors: Kevin Allen, Abigail Burton, Dana Cherry, Shari Clover, Tim Clover, Bob Galagaran, Matthew Harrison, Elena Schoen Northen, Alexandra Rosen, and Saoirse Staples.
Banner photo: The Addams family. Photo by Jere Torkelsen