It seems to be the year of The Addams Family, as this is the second production I’ve seen in a few short months, which is so crazy, since up to now, I didn’t know anything about the show at all. I must say, I’m a fan of the music, the story is delightful, and the humor is a modern variation of the show I remember from when I was little.
For those of you not familiar, The Addams Family is a creepy, cooky family made up of Gomez and his wife Morticia, their two dark, dangerous children, Wednesday and Pugsley, and Uncle Fester, Grandmama, and servant Lurch round out the family portrait. In this musical version, Wednesday, all grown up, has found love in the form of a young boy named Lucas, and they’ve decided to get married, so the whole show revolves around Wednesday trying to bring both families together to tell everyone, and thus everyone’s reaction to this news, some more happy about the idea than others. This is the story that the Burien Actors Theatre took on for their current show, and for me, it was mostly blasé, with a few moments of sheer brilliance.
Let’s start with the brilliance, shall we, because I can’t contain myself, I’m so
excited to write about one particular performance. Uncle Fester, performed by John Kelleher, was absolutely phenomenal! Fester’s delightful mischief in helping Miss Wednesday find true love drives the play, and in the hands of a less skilled actor, this role can seem manipulative and cheesy, but in Mr. Kelleher’s ridiculously, brilliantly talented hands, Fester was filled with a whimsy and commitment to this captivating character, that had me smiling every time he stepped on stage. Mr. Kelleher stole every scene he was in with his adorable physicality, his spritely energy, and his clear character choices. This is how you create comedic moments, people! You simply sink into the character, trust the script, and commit to your choices! The best voice in the cast, Mr. Kelleher didn’t miss a note, and never once did he drop this very specific character; it’s this performance alone that you should rush to the Burien Actors Theatre to experience because you’ll be smiling and giggling the whole wonderful time! Well done, Sir!
Additionally, I really enjoyed Pugsley Addams, played by Izzy Ferdico. She was dark and delightful all at the same time, and when Ms. Ferdico sang the very melancholy ‘What If’ towards the end of the first act, my heart just broke for poor Pugsley’s plight. I always applaud young actors in adult productions, especially girls who play boys’ parts, and Ms. Ferdico plays Pugsley perfectly. I was highly impressed with her ability to listen in each scene, and react to the choices given to her, which is a skill not usually done so naturally on such a young actor, but she did it brilliantly! Based on the performance in this show, I’d say Ms. Ferdico has a very bright future, and I look forward to seeing this youngster in more productions! Bravo, young lady!
Lastly, I was highly impressed with the ensemble. They have a lot to do in this spooky, cooky tale, and they were all used really well, both vocally, and in staging. They handled the simple choreography, and eclectic acting moments with lovely synchronicity, as well as were a lovely chorus for Uncle Fester to work off of for his solos. In a show with such strongly written leads, it’s tough for a chorus to stand out, but this one definitely did in a very wonderful way.
Sadly for me, that’s where the praise ends. I found the main trio of leads to be overly acted, and just shy of believable, mostly due to inconsistencies in their character development and acting choices. It felt as if they were trying too hard, which was a shame, because there is clearly talent amongst these three.
Gomez Addams, played by Nathaniel Jones had a strong grasp on the lovable family patriarch, but sadly his inconsistent accent was so distracting, it drove me nuts. It was mostly British, sometimes Spanish, and
always just not quite, well, for lack of a better descriptor, not quite Gomez. I found myself jarred out of believing the character in numerous scenes. On the flip side, his physicality as Gomez was spot on, and I applaud his ability to drop a double entendre so I really wish his vocal choices matched his physicality, but sadly, it did not.
Morticia Addams, played by Daniela Isabella Ferdico, fell into the same traps that the last Morticia I saw fell into, in that the subtle, cold emotionless beauty that is the dark matriarch of this family was lost. There was an over animation, an over emotionality that, if it was reigned in and controlled, with a clearer understanding of how powerfully stoic she must be to play off of Gomez’s silliness, I think Ms. Ferdico would blow my mind! Sadly, these two didn’t have the chemistry I was expecting from Gomez and Morticia, so I didn’t quite believe the relationship, even though the physicality of both actors, individually, was quite good. I missed that push and pull I’ve come to love from Mr. and Mrs. Addams.
And lastly, Wednesday Addams, played by Taylor Davis followed in the same footsteps as Ms. Ferdico with an over animation that doesn’t fit who Wednesday is supposed to be in this story. Ms. Davis had a strange, wide eyed look on her face, where she was ‘trying’ to be dark and edgy, rather than just ‘being’ dark and edgy. There were moments of ease for Ms. Davis’ performance, usually when she was singing, so the ability is there. From the neck down, Ms. Davis stomped across the stage like an angst-riddled teenager, but sadly her awkward facial expression had me feeling like her face was in a different moment than her body. It was very strange.
Not sure if it was the exhaustion of a Sunday show on opening weekend, or if this is the level of their character development, but sadly for me, the inconsistencies of these three performances just left me a little disappointed.
Design elements of this show are fantastic, however! Costumes and make-up were great, set was beautifully designed, and other than one lighting cue that was muddy (which bugged me because it was when Fester is singing when the Beinekes come through the park and I could not see Fester’s face hardly at all), the lighting was very well done.
Overall, the direction by Mark “Mok” Moser was clear and crisp. He staged some beautiful pictures, gave homage to the classic television show style, and committed to the creepy, cooky, mysterious and spooky world of The Addams Family. My only criticism of his direction was the inconsistencies of the main leads, in that I think more character development was needed to elevate those performances to more believable ones, but that is just my humble opinion.
Overall, it’s not a bad show, and as I said above, Mr. Kelleher as Uncle Fester is amazing enough for me to tell you to please go see this show and let him entertain you! Shows are selling out, though, so get your tickets early if you want to go!
The Addams Family plays through November 1st, and show time and ticket information can be found on Burien Actors Theatre’s website.
Ciao for now,
Photos from Burien Actors Theatre’s Facebook Page