The Addams Family
Over the last decade, Broadway has become overcome with revivals and musical adaptations of books, television or movies. Some of these have been wildly successful, such as "Hairspray" or "Wicked," others have been less inspiring. "The Addams Family" is a musical that falls on the very deep end of the latter.
Uninspired attempts at comedy, sluggish musical numbers, and less than stellar production value created a drab letdown out of the swell of potential that a show based on the popular fictional family could have had.
As a television show, both live action and animated, as well as a successful movie franchise, "The Addams Family" was consistently funny, using the dark premise of a family obsessed and prone to the dark and violent as a means for campy, sarcastic punch lines.
Addams patriarch Gomez played the oblivious clown with bravado to spare; Morticia was the sexually enticing goddess of the occult; Wednesday was pure evil and often the comedic centerpiece; and Pugsley was the masochistic troublemaker that served as a target for Wednesday’s sadistic torture schemes.
With consistent character archetypes to work with, a successful adaptation would reference the familiar Addams Family tropes while generating new, clever ways of making the storyline interesting. The music would be comedic and macabre in a way that could successfully accentuate the characters’ well-traversed stories.
What this musical did was very different, and far from successful. Endless slapstick made the characters into caricatures instead, which may have been tolerable if any of the jokes landed. The songs were all built around extremely unfunny concepts. Just look up "Trapped" and "Full Disclosure" if you don’t believe me. Worst of all were the dead-on-arrival attempts at "topical" commentary. Obamacare? Provocative!
"The Addams Family" is one of the all too common musicals in the Broadway adaptation realm that relies solely on its brand name to draw crowds. This is a franchise so rife with potential that it has been revived in different mediums across multiple decades, and yet there wasn’t one truly enjoyable scene in this show. For all of the flat jokes about the virtues of pain in the show, the only thing I could think of was how excruciating this show was to sit through.
"The Addams Family" runs through March 24 at the Academy of Music, 240 S Broad St. in Philadelphia. For info or tickets, call 215-893-1999 or visit www.academyofmusic.org/.