Theater Review - 'The Addams Family'
Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 8:17AM
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Theater Review – ‘The Addams Family’

Produced by: Theatre Three – Port Jefferson

Reviewed by: Jeb Ladouceur

 

The strangely appealing musical comedy now playing at Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three has got to be the wackiest production ever mounted on the 160-year-old building’s fabled stage. The show is ‘The Addams Family,’ and if ever there was a more appropriate prelude to the Halloween season, this, my friends, must surely be it!

About fifteen seconds into the macabre play, one finds one’s self wondering if the zany goings on could possibly be the product of the same theatrical organization that gave us ‘The Bridges of Madison County, or ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’ Even the bloodthirsty ‘Sweeney Todd’ seems tame in retrospect when compared to the ghoulish behavior that the morbid Addams bunch substitutes for fun.

It has been observed that all comedy is rooted in tragedy. That being the case, ‘The Addams Family’ can easily be termed the funniest performance ever mounted on any stage, anywhere … including vaudeville. Because to the weird Addams clan, Death is a hoot … Torture’s terrific … and Poison is downright yummy!

The wonder of it is that the resulting unlikely laugh lines (which are spun off in rat-a-tat-tat sequence) all work … to the extent that we hardly have time to catch our collective breaths between belly laughs.

This newest rib-tickler, directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, stars Matt Senese as Gomez Addams, and Tracylynn Conner (the dour Morticia Addams) is his perfect foil. Their counterparts, in what could be called a ghoulish version of ‘Meet the Parents,’ are Linda May and Steve Ayle, who play Alice and Mal Beineke as if born to the roles.

Of course, audiences should not expect anything profound in the plot as the Addams and Beineke families gingerly feel one another out (in the mansion near a graveyard, appropriately) where daughter Wednesday (yes, that’s her name) has chosen her family’s reunion to introduce current boyfriend Lucas (nicely played by an innocent Matt Paredi). It’s hard to tell which family is the more bewildered by the other … the ‘peaches-and-cream,’ All-American Beinekes, or their totally opposite numbers, the ultra-weird Addamses. The contrast only adds to the hilarity.

The songs in this musical are far from memorable, but their clever lyrics serve the goings on well (‘Just Around the Corner,’ for instance, becomes ‘Just Around the Coroner … get it? And Uncle Fester Addams does his thing in Act I with a piece titled ‘Fester’s Manifesto.’ That’s the kind of show this is. Writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise have grabbed every opportunity to nail down a pun the minute they got a chance.

Under the direction of veteran Jeffrey Hoffman, the Theatre Three orchestra is melodic when necessary, brassy when appropriate, and unobtrusive when the tender action on stage demands. Randall Parsons has delivered a super-functional set, and Lindsay DeFranco’s make-up design (so important to this play) works to perfection.

The costumes and wigs are exquisite … credit designer Chakira Doherty … as is Robert W. Henderson, Jr.’s spot-on lighting which is properly heavy on purple as well as shadow.

The preceding plaudits notwithstanding, I wouldn’t be surprised if the multi-talented members of Theatre Three’s cast and crew were quick to doff their wigs to the comic genius who came up with the ‘Addams Family’ concept in the beginning. Charles Addams had a keen ear for the sort of situations that make us cringe while chuckling and smile while squirming. He deserves all the stars that critics have in their galaxies.

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Award-winning writer, Jeb Ladouceur is the author of a dozen novels, and his theater and book reviews appear in several major L.I. publications. His recent hit, THE GHOSTWRITERS, explores the bizarre relationship between the late Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Ladouceur’s topical thriller, THE SOUTHWICK INCIDENT, was introduced at the Smithtown Library on May 21st. The book involves a radicalized Yale student and his CIA pursuers. Mr. Ladouceur’s revealing website is www.JebsBooks.com 

Article originally appeared on Smithtown Matters - Online Local News about Smithtown, Kings Park, St James, Nesconset, Commack, Hauppauge, Ft. Salonga (http://www.smithtownmatters.com/).
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