If you think your household is dysfunctional, try living with the Addams family. Watching what critics are calling Broadway’s best new musical comedy is a great way to kick off the start of spring break—and have some laugh-out-loud fun (oh, I mean misery). But hurry—the remaining shows are taking place at the Durham Performing Arts Center today, Saturday and Sunday.
Having never seen a single movie or episode of the original The Addams Family television show, I was introduced to a modern tale of an eccentric family that isn’t what most people would call ‘normal.’ The truth is, every family has ups and downs and The Addams Family is no exception. Gomez, the father, is torn between keeping a secret for his young daughter, Wednesday, and upholding a sense of trust with the mother, Morticia. In my opinion, Gomez is the true star of the show because I empathized with him most—his efforts to maintain his family relationships are poignant and sweet, and his energetic personality and humorous wit make him one of those characters you wish you could befriend.
Wednesday mirrors the typical young adult who is headstrong and knows what she wants. An aggressive but relatable character full of passion and life, Wednesday comes out of her usual ‘woeful’ state and works to make her family appear ‘normal’ like other families. She hopes to keep a certain secret from her mother, Morticia, until the time is right, but when exactly is that? And what is Morticia’s reaction?
The exquisite, headstrong mother of the household, Morticia holds a lot of pride—but also a lot of love. The adoration she has for her family shines through her insistence on sticking to family values. Toward the end, both Morticia and Wednesday pull the same move that is rather overly dramatic and very uncharacteristic of a tightknit family, but Gomez convinces them otherwise and is able to save the Addams from falling apart.Other lovable characters include Wednesday’s mischievous brother Pugsley, frumpy Grandmama, the Addams’ butler named Lurch, and even Uncle Fester, who serves as the narrator. In addition to some new faces (who look ‘normal’ but have their own special quirks), The Thing and mysterious Cousin Itt also star in the show, redefining the term ‘character’ entirely.
Can you spot who is who?
Seeing The Addams Family on Tuesday was a fantastic way to take a break from midterm week, and the hilarity of the entire show made me forget that I had an exam the next morning. The actors were so immersed in their characters and gave them such distinct personalities that they seemed like the real Addamses. And it is easy to see why Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribune called The Addams Family a “classic, full-tilt, fast paced, old-fashioned musical comedy”: every time you expect a cliché to be used, the Addams family members throw out something totally unexpected and you can’t help but laugh at the wryness of it all. Although there were some cheesy scenes and corny lines, most of them due to Wednesday’s teen angst, I thought there was a good balance between the cheese and the humor. I want to give the screenwriters a hug.
Overall, what makes The Addams Family such an excellent masterpiece is the combination of original Addams Family details and modern language as well as an engaging storyline and unforgettable characters. As for being an effective musical comedy, well, let’s just say the characters put the ‘music’ back in ‘musical’ and the ‘comedy’ back in, er…‘comedy’?
Even if you are not familiar with The Addams Family, this musical comedy is still easy to understand and will keep you laughing from the beginning to the end. If anything, you should go watch it just to see how much fun it really is to be morbid.