“The Addams Family” Possesses the Starlight Stage

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Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond) lights up the Starlight stage in "The Addams Family." (Photo by Jeremy Daniel.)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s kooky, spooky and, yes, ooky. “The Addams Family” has landed at Starlight Theatre.

The characters from Charles Addams’ macabre comic panels, TV show and movies have made an affable leap to the stage, with bouncy music and choreography added to the ghoulish mix.

The touring company currently performing at Starlight presents a version of the play that is reportedly somewhat different than the original that ran for 722 performances on Broadway.

One part obviously retained is the comic touch of veteran director Jerry Zaks, who was brought in after the fact to help directors Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch punch things up. Another is the unmistakable influence of actor Nathan Lane, who originally played the role of family patriarch, Gomez Addams.

In this touring edition of the show, Douglas Sills steps into the role of the obsessively romantic Gomez, who is still madly in love with his darkly elegant wife, Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger) after 25 years of marriage.

Things get complicated at their gothic Central Park mansion when daughter Wednesday (Courtney Wolfson) invites a ‘normal’ young man and his parents from Ohio over for dinner. Although she’s accepted the young man’s marriage proposal, Wednesday asks her father to keep it a secret from her mom.

Naturally, Wednesday’s ‘secret’ has an effect on other members of the family, including her masochistic brother Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy), weird Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond) and alchemist Grandma (Pippa Pearthree).

The book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice has some genuinely funny dialogue and the score by Andrew Lippa is pleasantly eclectic.

The musical numbers range from the bland to the unforgettable.

The sublimely odd tune “The Moon and Me” is a love ballad sung by Uncle Fester and dedicated to his romantic obsession, Earth’s incandescent satellite. This inspired and surreal scene is undoubtedly the highlight of this offbeat show.

There are other memorable moments, but the show never quite flows. It’s a start-and-stop affair that lacks comic or dramatic momentum.

While it’s a mixed bag, what makes “The Addams Family” work as well as it does is the clever mix of cheeky humor and terrific stagecraft.  You may see hundreds of shows in your lifetime, but you may never see better use of a red velvet curtain.

Like the decay in the ornately decrepit Addams home, the flaws in “The Addams Family” seem to add to its eccentric charm.

“The Addams Family” runs through July 8th at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo. Information is available by calling 816-363.STAR (7827) or by visiting www.kcstarlight.com.

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