The credits for the Spreckels Theater Company production of The Addams Family, running now through October 28, notes that the musical is “based on characters created by Charles Addams.” It is not a recreation of the beloved 1960’s sitcom. It is not an adaptation of the visually inventive films of the ‘90’s. At the insistence of the Charles Addams Foundation, who retain control of all things Addams, the source material for the musical had to be the cartoons Addams published for fifty years in the New Yorker.
The 2010 Broadway musical by Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa had a moderately successful run before becoming a theatrical Halloween season staple. It banks on the goodwill and fond memories of the generations raised with the reruns or the films and then goes in a very different direction.
Uncle Fester (Erik Weiss) narrates the show and lets the audience know it’s gonna be a story about love. A teenage Wednesday Addams (Emma LaFever) is worried about bringing her “normal” boyfriend/fiancée Lucas (Cooper Bennett) and his straight-laced, midwestern parents (Larry Williams, Morgan Harrington) home to meet her unconventional family. Wednesday lets her father Gomez (Peter Downey) in on her marriage plans but gets him to agree to not reveal her intentions to her mother Morticia (Serena Elize Flores) till an announcement is made at dinner. Things don’t go as planned.
It’s a stock plot dressed up with the Addams characters though the characters bear little resemblance to their previous incarnations. Downey comes closest with a very nice paternal take on Gomez while Flores’ voluptuous Morticia lacks the character’s dark, funereal tone.
The score is bouncy yet unmemorable, but there are a lot of good voices delivering it. Prepare to be knocked out when Pugsley (Mario Herrera) sings about the potential loss of a playmate sister with “What If.”
Ignore the trick the show’s creators play with The Addams Family characters and you’ll enjoy a family-friendly Halloween treat.
‘The Addams Family’ runs through Oct. 28 at Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park. Fri. & Sat @ 8 pm; Sun @ 2 pm, Thurs, Oct. 25 @ 7 pm.
For more information, go to spreckelsonline.com.
Now, in order for a show like Count Dracula – running now in Monte Rio through October 27 – to work, it has to be either played straight or as total camp. Playwright Ted Tiller’s 1971 version of the Bram Stoker novel under the direction of Nadja Masura tries to do both and the mix just doesn’t work. Tiller also seems to have worked under the assumption that no one had ever heard vampire lore before and inserted reams of lengthy, dull exposition that makes the show run an hour longer than it should.
A good set, some nice effects, and a game cast can’t mask the un-dead weight of a leaden script.
‘Count Dracula’ runs through Oct. 27 at the Russian River Hall in Monte Rio. Fri. & Sat. @ 8pm; Sun @ 3pm.
For more information, go to curtaincallrussianriver.com.