'The Addams Family' is a snap for Silhouette

Howard County Times

From the moment you hear the finger-snapping music at the start of “The Addams Family,” you know that you'’l immediately be snapping your own fingers while settling in to watch this 2010 Broadway musical version of the beloved 1960s TV show. The lively Silhouette Stages’ production really gets into the silly spirit of things, ensuring that you will have a good time.

Although those who insist upon finding a meaning in everything will duly make note of this musical’s insistently repeated message that the oddball Addams family is perfectly happy living outside of the societal norm, the rest of us can notice that thematic agenda and then resume enjoying all of the silliness.

For all its inherently goofy charm, “The Addams Family” actually is not the easiest show to stage. If it were merely based on the original Charles Addams/ cartoons in The New Yorker magazine, there would be considerable creative latitude for doing a stage adaptation. The familiarity of the TV show and its exquisite casting, however, inevitably affect how you’ll react to a theatrical version. After all, once John Astin put his suave mark on the role of Gomez Addams, how could any other actor lay claim to the role?

What’s especially nice about the Silhouette staging is that the actors cast in both major and minor roles have the right physical and personality traits to make a persuasive case. Sure, they have a tendency to play their roles broadly, but “The Addams Family” is not exactly the place to go for nuance. Campy fun is more like it.

That sort of pop cultural entertainment suffuses this musical’s book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Similarly, the music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa have a light-hearted appeal. Indeed, the score adeptly breezes through musical styles ranging from the tango to the twist. Most of that score is not exactly great music in the sense of something that lingers in memory, but it’s often quite enjoyable in the moment.

The Silhouette staging directed and choreographed by Tommy Malek mostly flows smoothly, although there are just enough cumbersome scene changes and misbehaving microphones to prevent it from being completely seamless. Small glitches hardly matter here, because the smart cast knows exactly what it’s doing.

Starting with the heads of the eccentric, all-in-black-costumed household, Vincent Musgrave has a delightfully hammy Spanish accent as Gomez, while his exotic wife Morticia is played with hip-thrusting, vampish enthusiasm by Santina Maiolatesi. Their young adult daughter, Wednesday (Heather Moe) and young son Pugsley (Sammy Greenslit at the reviewed performance), delight in dungeon torture games.

And, of course, plenty of haunted house-worthy antics are supplied by a very bald Uncle Fester (Michael M. Crook), a very loony Grandma (Caitlin Grant) and a very tall and grunting Lurch (Christopher Kabara). Add in an ensemble of ghostly, all-in-white-costumed ancestors and it’s a fully populated household.

The rather spare but admittedly heartwarming story involves Wednesday dating a very nice and ordinary young man, Lucas Beineke (Drew Sharpe), whose very square parents, Alice (Ashley Gerhardt) and Mal (Richard Greenslit), are in for a huge dose of culture shock when they accept a dinner invitation at the Addams’ house.

The culture-clashing jokes start to wear thin by the second act, but the pacing is fast enough to always keep you alert to every hilariously bad pun along the way. And the Silhouette cast is having such a good time that you’re caught up in the dinner party nonsense.

Also consistently holding your attention is that this is a really strong production from a vocal standpoint. One standout all evening long is Heather Moe, whose confident singing gives you all the more reason to root for Wednesday’s campaign to have her normal boyfriend be accepted by her proudly abnormal family. Of course, we all know that the Addams family is at heart normal in its own way, and there are tender vocal exchanges between Gomez and Morticia to reinforce that point.

The only disappointment in the staging is that the set design, while adequate, is rather drab for the numerous scenes taking place at the Addams family mansion. A bit more spooky decor would help and, in general, there are missed opportunities to enhance the satirically creepy atmospheric effects.

Silhouette Stages’ remaining performances of “The Addams Family” are Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 21 and 28 at 3 p.m. at Slayton House Theater, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia. Tickets are $22; $18 for seniors, military and students; $15 for children 12 and under. Go to silhouettestages.com

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