Chris Bryant, Isabel Nesti, Bobby Conte, Kaylee Annable, Deb Babich, Aidan Singleton (front) and Stephen Potter (back) in The Addams Family. Photo courtesy of Derby Dinner Playhouse.
The Addams Family
Music & lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice
Directed by Lee Buckholz
Reviewed by Brian Kennedy
Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved.
At times hilarious, other times tender, and at all times fun, Derby Dinner Playhouse has a solid hit with The Addams Family.
The Addams Family, based on the comic characters created by Charles Addams that were adapted into a popular TV show and two feature films, features the namesake family somewhere in the middle of Central Park. The home is wonderfully dedicated to darkness, the occasional torture, and kooky characters.
Gomez Addams (the charismatic Bobby Conte), the over-the-top, fencing aficionado, loving husband, and father, finds himself in a conundrum. His daughter, Wednesday (the fantastic Kaylee Annable), who looks like she could be the Grim Reaper’s kid, has fallen in love with a more “normal” child, Lucas (Mitchell Lewis, who showed good chemistry with Annable). Lucas and Wednesday wish to marry each other, and Wednesday asks her father not to tell her mother and Gomez’s wife, Morticia (the humorous and stunning Isabel Nesti).
The problem with this, for Gomez, is that he has never lied to his wife. However, he also wants to help his daughter. This leads to very funny moments of confusion for Gomez, especially evident during the number, “Two Things” and, later, “Four Things.”
Meanwhile, the Addams family prepares a dinner, which will include Lucas and his parents, Mal (the superbly square Cary Wiger) and Alice (the sunny Elizabeth Loos).
During a game called “Full Disclosure,” that the guests play after dinner, secrets are divulged, often in very crazy ways that lead to many laugh-out-loud moments, Elizabeth Loos’ Alice, in particular, drinks a poison not intended for her and goes from having a way-too-sunny-and-poetic-disposition to one that is desperate, lusting for the old days with Mal. She goes crawling up and down a table, and has the butler Lurch (Stephen Potter) grab her breasts, much to Lurch’s delight.
Potter, by the way, was wonderfully stoic and serious in his mostly non-speaking role, earning a few laughs with his reaction to Alice during “Full Disclosure.” His “voice” earned a couple of laughs as well, but (and this is not Potter’s fault) whatever mechanism or microphone trick used to obtain his voice became an annoying hindrance towards the end of the show.
The second act switches from hilarious to tender, but all actors are still at the top of their game. In particular, Conte’s Gomez provides the right emotional touch during “Happy Sad,” as he realizes how much Wednesday has grown up.
This, by the way, was nowhere near the only heartfelt or goose bump-earning moment in the show. Aidan Singleton’s Pugsley Addams delivered a poignant, innocent, and extremely amusing “What If,” a song where he asks who is going to torture him once Wednesday marries Lucas.
The goosebumps, meanwhile, came in anytime the entire ensemble (including dead ancestors) performed together. The Broadway-level dynamics in those voices made an impact, even during the opening number, when the piano mix was ear piercing. (That issue appeared to have been corrected as the show went on.)
Long story short, Derby Dinner’s The Addams Family is easily a fun show to go and experience. Check it out for yourself.
The Addams Family
February 22 – April 9, 2017
Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129
Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for Louisville.com and Examiner.com from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana.