Black humor turns out to be .... funny. Very funny.
The Broadway musical tour of “The Addams Family” seeped into the Orpheum Theater on Tuesday night for a weeklong haunt, and it was apparent that about 1,800 people got a kick out of the famed funereal family's antics.
Daughter Wednesday has grown up and fallen for Lucas Beineke, a “normal” guy. She swears her father Gomez to secrecy that they plan to marry, at least until the two families meet at dinner.
But — cara mia! — Gomez has never kept a secret from wife Morticia before. And Lucas' parents have never been to a dinner like this — or a home like the Addams manse on New York's Central Park.
The first act ends with dinner's disastrous aftermath, a game of “Full Disclosure” in which people tell the absolute truth. Uncle Fester confesses he's in love ... with the moon. And young Pugsley, hoping to spoil his sister's romance, tries to slip her a potion that undoes Mrs. Beineke instead.
So here's a little full disclosure of my own. I wasn't particularly looking forward to this show. Not that I didn't get a kick out of “The Addams Family” TV series back in the 1960s. I just couldn't quite see how you could turn the fairly thin premise, based on Charles Addams' famed New Yorker cartoons, into an entertaining musical.
But a script loaded with clever one-liners by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (“Jersey Boys”), plus witty lyrics by Andrew Lippa (“The Wild Party”) and some really fun theatrical magic made a believer out of me well before intermission.
The show's creators hardly miss a trick. They get laughs out of butler Lurch's version of hurrying (Dan Olson, hilarious), 104-year-old Grandma's love life, and Fester mooning over the moon.
Even a giant tassel on the show's scarlet act curtain becomes a running gag. Literally.
Among a solid cast of character actors, Jennifer Fogarty stands out as Wednesday, a slip of a girl who can really belt out a song.
Jesse Sharp makes a fine Gomez, oozing affection for his prickly-pear wife. KeLeen Snowgren, as Morticia, showcases her considerable song-and-dance skills, plus cleavage down to there and leg up to here, in the second act with one of the show's best numbers, “Death Is Just Around the Corner.”
Yes, the non-Equity show is clearly on a budget. Some instrumental music was pre-recorded, causing a couple of cue problems, and the cast is relatively small at 20. But a chorus of 10, playing pasty Addams ancestors risen from the dead, delivers sharp choreography and full-throated harmonies just the same.
A couple of sex jokes make this slightly less than squeaky-clean family fun, but it's a good bet you'll exit the theater with a broad smile on your face and “Just Around the Corner” stuck in your brain.
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