I was wrong.
Having seen a turgid and sluggish production of "The Addams Family" on tour at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center in 2011, I didn't have high hopes for the musical that's now at Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center.
I even smugly suggested to my seat mates — who didn't ask, but I'm sure appreciated my unsolicited opinion, nonetheless — to lower their expectations.
But five minutes into the show, I had to lean back over and sheepishly whisper, "Hey, me again. My bad. This show is terrific."
That's because this take on "The Addams Family" is sharp, where the previous road tour was blunted. It's superbly cast, where before, some square pegs were shoved into some round roles. The show now has comic timing worthy of a big room as opposed to a lounge back then ... and a piano lounge at that.
For a show depicting a family obsessed with death (the plot loosely rests on the macabre Charles Addams cartoons famously published in "The New Yorker" magazine), this version glows with newness and life. The writers have even inserted some topical material, shanking the likes of Charlie Sheen, Obamacare and texting-obsessed teens.
Goodness knows they don't have a fabulous set to make the audience "ooh" and "ahh," relying instead on painted backdrops and swirly-swoopy curtains. All the cast really has to sell the story — which centers on daughter Wednesday (Jennifer Fogarty) wanting to marry “normal” Lucas (Bryan Welnicki) against the wishes of her aghast parents, Gomez (Jesse Sharp) and Morticia (Keleen Snowgren) — is their talent, which blazes onstage for the better part of two brisk hours with a 15-minute intermission.
While Sharp takes big, juicy bites out of the Gomez part, and Shaun Rice is funny in offbeat and surprising ways as Uncle Fester, it is Fogarty who almost makes off with the show. She's a little thing with a great big voice, blasting Andrew Lippa's twisted score to the back of the Broward Center.
“The Addams Family” runs through April 21 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 7:30 p.m. Sundays; and 2 p.m. matinees Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost from $39.50 to $79.50. Call 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCenter.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun