Monday, October 3, 2016

The Addams Family, the musical—Beaverton Civic Theatre—Beaverton, OR

A “Grave” Family

This comic musical is based on the cartoons of Charles Addams and the TV series.  It is written by Marshall Brickman (a frequent co-writer for Woody Allen’s films) and Rick Elice, and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.  It is directed by Melissa Riley (also Founder and Artistic Director for the Company) and Josh Pounders (also Music Director) and choreographed by Jenny Cyphers.  It is playing at their space in the Beaverton Civic Library, 12375 SW 5th St. in Beaverton, through October 15th.  For more information, go to their site at www.beavertoncivictheatre.org

Okay, maybe I’m aging myself by saying I watched the old TV series of this show, as well as its counter-part, The Munsters.  I also was aware of the comic strip by Charles Addams, which the series and musical are based.  The Muster family went on to make a movie and the Addams’ this Broadway musical with Raul Julia.  It definitely broaches on some pretty grisly matters such as zombies, vampires, ghouls, torture, ghosts, witches and, of course, death itself.  But they always managed to chill and thrill us with humor, not an easy task.

In case you’re one of the few who are not aware of the Family, here is a quick run-down.  The patriarch is Gomez (Jason Taylor), who is a horny, big devil and is almost always truthful.  His wife is Morticia (Beth Noelle) a very alluring femme-fatal.  Their children are their daughter, Wednesday (Olivia Noelle), a morbid sort who yearns to be “normal.”  Then there is their son, Pugsley (Riley Suzuki), who enjoys being tortured in his spare time, as well as needling his sister.

Uncle Fester (Stan Yeend) communes with the spirits of their ancestors and has a secret love of a lunar capacity.  Granny (Laurie Monday) is an herbalist, or better known in the rural parts, as a witch.  She has potions and spells at her disposal and in the wrong hands can be quite deadly.  And, lastly, there is their beloved servant, Lurch (James VanEaton), a zombie, who has a rather exasperating language barrier because of that.  All in all they reside in a spooky old mansion and they are--The Addams Family.

Well, all is going along as per expected, when Wednesday suddenly falls in love with one of the “normals,” a young man named Lucas (Austin Peters) and they want to get married.  But that means introducing the families and there could be a bit of a disconnect, as you might expect.  Lucas’s father, Mal (Greg Prosser), a control-freak and his repressed wife, Alice (Trishelle Love) are invited to dinner where all hell breaks loose.  Even the spirits of the ancestors are invited to help but will it all end happily?  Will Fester be united with his lunar babe?  Will the dance of love be enough to win over his wife?  Will Lurch finally find his voice?  Stay tuned and see this exciting episode of…The Adams Family!

The songs/music are good and further the story along but not necessarily memorable.  What is memorable are the people doing the singing, they are terrific and sell the songs!  Taylor is perfect as Gomez and has a voice to match.  Would like to see him do the Mostel/Lane role in The Producers.  He is a gem in all his numbers and hope to see him on the “Boards” again.  Noelle, as his wife, is equally as good, having the right look/allure for the role, as well as the voice and acting chops to match.  (She is also a fine musician/music director from a past production I saw elsewhere).

Noelle and Suzuki as the offspring have a lot of talent for such young performers and should go far in the future.  Yeend is a charmer as the smitten uncle and Monday an adorable old hag.  The chorus and the “normal” family also are in very good voice, almost operatic at times.  And who can’t forget VanEaton as Lurch, in a small, mostly mute role, he shines proving once again the old adage, “there are no small roles, only small actors.”

The set by David Smith and Alex Woodward is wonderfully gloomy and perfectly accessible for such a large cast on a small stage.  The Black & White costumes by Sue Woodbury fit the show like a glove, evoking fond memories, as well as recreating an era.  Riley and Pounders, as the directors, have managed to pull off a minor miracle, trafficking a large number of actors on such a limited space.  And their casting is spot on, both vocally and acting-wise.

And I have to give a special shout-out to one of the many unsung heroes behind the scenes, my contact at BCT, their marketing person, Amanda Clark (and a fine comic actress, too, in her own right).  I spoke with her for awhile after the show and she is everything you would want in this kind of individual, enthused about the company and their mission, looking for ways to get the word out, and a genuinely very appealing presence.  There are many such people behind the scenes (which I’m sure all theatre folk would agree with) that never get the kudos they deserve.  So, I present for your approval, one of the many, Amanda Clark (applause, applause)!

I recommend this show, it’s worth the drive out.  But, a word of warning, for some complicated reasons, the theatre is very chilly, so please dress warmly (they also have blankets available).  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.