I started seeing plays at Little Theatre of the Rockies in 1977, and though I have missed some shows along the way, I like to think I have pretty much kept up with the goings on around the University of Northern Colorado campus in the summer over the years. The 2016 summer season wraps up this weekend with “The Addams Family Musical,” and in my opinion, it has been the overall best season over the past 39 years.
“Addams Family” is not thematically heavy, and is not a complicated story. It doesn’t feature great songs or a huge cast. What makes this show so successful is that it’s just about having fun. It doesn’t try to be anything more — if it did, it would probably fail.
The musical is based on Charles Addams’ single panel cartoon, which ran in The New Yorker for over 50 years, which was also the source material for numerous television and film adaptations. It is about a family who perceives themselves completely normal, when in fact they have a morbid fascination with death and all things dark. Tension arises when their daughter, Wednesday, falls in love with a “normal” guy, and they plan to marry.
It’s hard to keep a play full of ridiculous characters from being over the top, but director David Grapes, in his first season as LTR’s producing artistic director, did just that. He constantly pushed his excellent cast right to the edge, even adding some updated lines and Trump jokes, but he knew exactly when to pull back and let the story stand on its own.
The parents of this goofy clan, Morticia and Gomez, are played by real life couple Adriane Wilson and Marco Robinson. Their chemistry is obvious and their talent is boundless. I look forward to seeing more from them as they move on to the next phase of their performance careers. They are joined by Jessica Mauro as Wednesday, Loren LaCash Mellick as Uncle Fester and Jordan Roberts as Lurch, who, despite his lack of spoken words has some of the biggest laugh lines of the show.
Among the stars of this production are the design staff. J. David Blatt’s settings, Anne Toewe’s costumes, Neal Johnson’s sound and Katie Gruenhagen’s lighting are all excellent, and add tremendously to the success of the show. Angela Steiner’s small orchestra is very good.
Perhaps the only negative aspect of the show was the projections — some of which worked but most of which were needless distractions. Unfortunately, UNC has recently become enamored with projected scenic elements and have utilized them far too frequently, although they have yet to use them successfully.
I was never a fan of the TV show or any of the Addams Family movies, but I loved this show. Full of corny jokes (“I can be impulsive, I just need to think about it first”), political commentary, and plenty of flatulence, “The Addams Family Musical” is suitable for all but the youngest family members.
— Bryan VanDriel lives in Greeley and has been active in the arts for over 35 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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