Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
The Addams Family
Also see Stephanie's review of Jekyll & Hyde and Mark's review of Benchwarmers
Morticia Addams (Lisette Mowery) is her sexy, droll and dour selfalso a song-and-dance womanin this funny take on the New Yorker cartoon and TV program popular in the 1960s. Mowery is dead-on (groaners abound in this play) as Morticia, the passionate love of her husband's life and mother of Wednesday (Sasha Butcher) and Pugsley (Jackson Murrieta). Wednesday is in love with an ordinary guy, Lucas Beineke (Jesse Miller), and invites him and his parents to dinner chez Addams. She confesses to her father Gomez (Ron Gallegos) that she and Lucas plan to be married. She makes Gomez, who has never kept a secret from his wife, swear not to tell Morticia (who loathes the keeping of secrets). Complications ensue.
The musical opens in a cemetery where set designer Glenn Pepe gets his first chance to wow us with wrought-iron-gate and marble-crypt stagecraft. The family pays tribute to their ancestors and sings about what it's like "When You're an Addams." Uncle Fester (Jason Wiley, in a memorable ALT debut) then locks the ancestors out of the crypt and demands their support in getting the young lovers through this meeting-the-families ordeal.
The 17 or so ancestors serve as a strong chorus, dance troupe, and madcap bunch who represent Addams family members from different eras (flapper, Victorian, Pilgrim) and different walks of life (caveman, soldier, baseball player). Each character is unique in costume and personality and, except when singing, virtually silent. Unseen by anyone except Fester, they perform a variety of functions, including whipping up a storm that keeps the Beinekes at the mansion overnight. Powdery-white from head to toe, these ghosts glow against black curtains and, in true ALT fashion, perform like Broadway babies. You will be charmed.
The lead cast pleases in each of these iconic comedy roles. Gallegos as Gomez is as passionate and devoted to Morticia as one could wish. He shows the depth of his feelings as Wednesday's father in "Happy/Sad," and dances like a true Latin lover in "Tango de Amor." Lisette Mowery couldn't be more divine as Morticia, and gets extra points for dancing in a dress more mermaid than mobile (and cut "down to Venezuela," as her husband observes). David Mowery is suitably Frankensteinian as Lurch, getting laughs in all the right places. Beth Elliot (Grandma) channels her inner hippie chick and made me remember it's The Season of the Witch. I laughed so hard my mascara came off.
Wiley as Fester has a particularly sweet number, "The Moon and Me," staged like a Maurice Sendak lullaby, with the female ancestors assisting. Wiley really gets Fester. I didn't, until now. Butcher is Wednesday in her own lovely, ferocious way, with a clear voice and mature presence. Miller is a good match for her. Murrieta does a nice job with Pugsley, who is sad and confused about Wednesday's plans to leave. The Beineke parentsSteve Weitz as father Mal, Tina Andrews as mother Alicedo a graceful turnabout together. It is gratifying to see such a uniformly adept cast in such a fun play.
More kudos to set designer Pepe and to director David Bryant: The dinner scene, during which the game of "Full Disclosure" brings out everyone's secrets, is magnificent.
The Addams Family (A New Musical Comedy), through October 29, 2017, Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, Albuquerque NM. For tickets and information, call 505-242-4750 or visit albuquerquelittletheatre.org