The Addams Family

Karly Jones & Emily Vergason in The Addams Family. Photo: Mind’s Eye

Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Orchestrations by Larry Hochman
Based on characters created by Charles Addams
Directed and Choreographed by Valerie Cannon

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Surely you know the familiar theme song: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky… Yes, it seems The Addams Family creeps into the cultural zeitgeist every couple of years. From television shows to countless movie adaptations, this loveable family of mortem-obsessed weirdos have their own musical as well. A community theater favorite in recent years, The Addams Family debuted with Mind’s Eye Theater Company at the Henry Clay Theater to a small audience. And this show has plenty of relatable family-based humor and morbid yet silly antics for anyone living or dead.

The plotline of The Addams Family veers closer to situation comedy rather than life-changing theater but that’s okay. Everything in this show is familiar and the jokes still land for the most part. Gomez and Morticia find their morose daughter, Wednesday, growing up and falling in love with a seemingly normal fellow. Things go a bit haywire when Wednesday’s potential suitor and his even more normal and judgmental parents show up for dinner.  

Attention to detail is key for The Addams Family and their macabre world remains spooky while the storylines of love and family remain lighthearted. The contrast between the family’s dark and sinister existence and the arrival of the family from the regular world  in casual attire is well executed as Wednesday changes out of her familiar black dress into bright yellow fare while remaining in her black makeup. Comedic bits about pully-torture devices, blades popping out of chairs, and monsters under the bed deliver great payoffs. The camp factor is high and welcomed in a production like this. With such bits and strong design, I questioned the choice to use large paper trees for scenes within a nearby park. The seemingly low quality of this kind of set piece failed in comparison to other more cleverly constructed aspects of the show. 

As for the performances, the cast brings very strong vocals and comedic timing to their respective Addams family members. As the passionate patriarch, Gomez, Jon Ernstberger wears his heart on his sleeve as he strives to keep secrets from Morticia in honor of Wednesday. Ernstberger and Ashleigh Skaggs’ Morticia are sweet hearts with an unusual dynamic. Skaggs does well to channel an equally icy and tender diva to Ernstberger’s adoring Gomez.

Karly Jones shows off a pretty pair of pipes as Wednesday. Her “Pulled” is a sweet love song yet stays true to the essence of her character as she scowls and stares. Jones remains deadpan as Wednesday falls deeper in love with Lucas, played with lovesick adoration by Tyler Akin. Akin and Jones are flirty and funny as the young couple unaware of their difference and blinded by their attraction to one another. Akin makes grand moments of his compliments to Jones’ Wednesday who plainly yet confidently answers, “That’s so hot” They may be from two different worlds but these two have chemistry. As Lucas’ parents, Mary Kate Vanegas and Paul Stiller are sufficient straight-laced. Vanegas is a hoot near the end of the first act as her sunny disposition quickly turns sour. Stiller brings a nice vocal quality to a character whose past free-loving life is recognized as well.

Other familiar characters make their way into this funny show. Kristen Findley is a gross and perfectly wretched Grandma. Aaron Whaley manages a satisfactory deadpan as the stoic Lurch. Emily Vergason’s Pugsley is sneaky and mischievous. But it’s Mimi Housewright’s appearance as Fester that truly stands out. Worthy of their own cabaret act, Housewright steals the show with the help of ancestors (Amanda Kyle Lahti, Joy Beth Dewitt-Riley, Nazaneen Ehsani, Marianne Zickuhr, Mike Nilsson, Kyle DeWitt-Riley, David Luker, Seth Sheffield). Whether Fester is leaping and hamming it up or swooning with the help of a ukulele, Housewright ushers the show along while addressing the audience about love and other affairs of the heart.

I have to admit that I have avoided past productions of this show in every capacity from the moment I heard it would make its way to Broadway. Are they really making The Addams Family into a musical? And I would scoff at the notion. By the end of the first act, I was recanting any preconceptions I had about The Addams Family. And changing your mind is a major lesson from this show as well!

The Addams Family

April 20-21, 23, 24, 26-29

Minds Eye Theater Company
Henry Clay Theater
604 S. Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!