I recently had the joy of seeing the Addams Family play at the Candlelight Pavilion theater in Claremont, California. The play had humor, romance and mystery that kept the audience watching on the edge of their seats. I have gone to this theater before to watch plays when I was younger and when I found out they were doing the Addams Family, one of my favorite shows growing up I had to go. The story follows the Addams Family’s only daughter, Wednesday Addams, who falls in love with a boy she knows her family won’t approve of and his won’t approve of hers. Wednesday is a girl of darkness and her boyfriend Lucas comes from a “normal” family. The young couple is secretly engaged and only Gomez, Wednesday’s dad, knows of the truth. They know if her mom, Morticia, were to find out she would freak out and feel betrayed. Gomez struggles to keep the secret from his loving wife of 25 years because he has never kept any secrets from her before.
The play space took place on a gorgeous proscenium stage that was perfect for this type of play. This view was valuable for this story especially because there could be about 6-20 people on stage at a time. So, with this stage setup it made it easier to keep your view in the same direction rather than having to try to keep up with the cast. I sat on the terrace and had an incredible view and I walked down to the first floor where the view was just as good.
The director interpreted the play quite well, but at times the play came off as cheesy. It would falter from the seriousness and throw in a corny joke. The director, Chuck Ketter, did an impressive job with Uncle Fester’s cherished full moon glowing bright above and the Addams’ mansion in Central Park looking majestic with a pair of parallel Victorian-era staircases. The costumes, lighting and sound were dependable, and the costumes were practically exact to those of the TV show back in the 90’s.
The two actresses that really made this play come to life would have to be Amanda Minano who plays Wednesday Addams and the exquisite Erica Marie Weisz who portrays Mortricia Addams, Wednesday’s mother. The Addams family cast really brought the fact to life that they are bizarre and do not care what anyone else thinks about them because they are proud in who they are. Mortricia is graceful and moving during her performance of “Just Around the Corner,” which finishes in a tap sequence and a literal dance with Death. Amanda Minano does a perfect representation or her character by captivating the audience with her darkness while having a soft spot for fianc©, Lucas. All the actors worked in sync and connected with each other as well as the audience.
The clothing, hair, and make up told you who the characters were and how their family blended together so well. The Addams family had elegant and dark costumes just as they should along with their make up transforming the actors into their characters. Wednesday has her black dress with dark eye circles along with her awkward stance and two black braided pigtails. The black formfitting costumes created by Merrill Grady and Linda Vick, give the impression that this freaky family is well tailored and fancy. In addition, the wigs by Michon Gruber-Gonzales help to not only identify who the characters are but also give the fascinating aura of mystery that is so intriguing of the family.
Even if you have a horrible imagination, this set design will be able to trick you into thinking it is the real thing. The set was amazing and looked like the image of the play was built right in front of you. The tone and style of this play was perfectly made through the set and showed how dark and deadly the Addams property was. The locale mainly took part in the dining room, but there were some parts where we were taken to the graveyard and forest just outside the family mansion. At night the moon would come out in view which Uncle Fester was infatuated with, and we could understand why. There was a scene when Uncle Fester (played by Greg Nicholas) sings his version of “The Moon and Me,” where we see him gravitate toward the celestial body, as his lower limbs take on the shape of flaccid but stretchy puppet limbs that do a lot of choreography one normally wouldn’t be able to do.
The Props were also a factor in helping our imagination take flight throughout the musical. Wednesday always brings her crossbow wherever she goes, and, in a scene, she uses her crossbow to shoot some bats which string puppets from were above and was a prop but knocked down one of the bats (which was just the puppeteer loosening his reigns on the bat). In the grave yard there was tombstones of course along with a tomb and smoke for the creepy effect of the dark night.
Lighting helped provide the shape and forms of the characters like with Mortricia she was a tall, curvy, and powerful character as well as being a loving mother. The illumination of the lighting helped to provide on the characters during their solo songs or even in serious scenes when they were the focus. When there were sad scenes there tended to be a hint of blue lighting which displayed that the mood of the scene was somber. The entire play was set in the night time, so we never saw daylight only moonlight and some dark and scary places like the graveyard. The lighting helped the set come to life also because we could see what time of the day and what type of mood we were watching.
In conclusion, this play was a wonderful play for the entire family and although dark, is appropriate for younger audience viewers. This play has songs that will have the whole family clapping and singing along while the cast delivers an extraordinary performance and out do themselves. The “Addams family” Musical is another incredible show put on by the Candlelight theater with something in it for everyone and whether you are 9 or 59 years old, you will be able to enjoy. I highly recommend this production because under the appearance of dark comedy and the odd jokes, there is the uplifting concept.
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