Miranda Musical Theatre Company: The Addams Family - Review by Joshua Straw
Almost everyone knows about the wickedly wild inversion of the ideal family known as the Addams Family, and if you do not, then you are surely missing out. We’ve seen many a revival or continuation of this franchise, especially of late, so it would be easy to sit down to a show with an abundance of preconceived notions on how things should be done and characters should be played. These big, misshapen, wacky shoes are truly hard to fill. But I can say with confidence that Miranda Musical Theatre Company’s production of The Addams Family - A New Musical did an excellent job of continuing the story with the characters we love while bringing something entirely new and amazing to see on stage.
Director Tim Dennis should be incredibly proud of what he and his whole team have accomplished here; the show was amazingly put together, and I found myself completely enthralled with what was occuring on stage. I felt immediately welcomed into the room, with the lighting, chandeliers, and soundscape continuing the environment beyond the stage so that it was felt by the audience both before the show and during the intermission. In my opinion, there’s something truly heartwarming about this, as it makes you almost feel like you’re part of the show rather than just the audience, and I applaud this attention to detail as it shows how devoted MMTC is to its patrons. The set, lighting, and soundscapes throughout were so well done and made transitions between scenes feel near-seamless. A massive shout-out to the digital screen animator; the set designs were unbelievable and brought the entire stage to life. Additionally, an excellent job was done by anyone who had their hand, foot, or bucket of grey paint involved in the wardrobing for this show. All characters, ensemble included, looked amazing, and this attention to detail and storytelling is a testament to the commitment of the entire company.
Co-Musical Directors Anthony Cutrupi and Thomas Odell have done an excellent job of bringing the sounds to life on stage through both the cast and band. Everyone sounded fantastic, and the instrumentals for each song were strong and complimentary throughout. While the solos sounded amazing, I was particularly struck by the chorus work in this show; it was powerful, a little haunting, and therefore aligned perfectly with the story. Choreographer Stephanie Westbrook’s fantastic work in this show was well evidenced and brought a playful charm to the show. A notable standout in my mind is the choreography during "Full Disclosure." This may look simple, but I have no doubt that she and the performers worked extremely hard to ensure it was in sync and looked outstanding. In general, this is a team with phenomenal individual strength that has come together to pull off a show equal to their combined talent.
As I said, this show has some clown-sized shoes to fill, and I can only imagine how hard it can be to do this. Dennis and the production team have done well in bringing together a cast that is extremely talented and blends on stage. Nathan Farrow plays an outstanding Gomzez Addams, caught between the rock and hard place of his wife and daughter. The character work for Gomez can be tricky, but I found myself cackling at the hilarity Farrow brought to the stage and blown away by the steady power of his voice. He is complimented by the beautiful Roz Howell, whose Morticia blew me away. Not only does she look and sound outstanding, but her characterisation of a character who is traditionally stiff adds a correct and entertaining amount of ‘controlling mother afraid of losing her only daughter to a boy’ to really elevate the character and let some of the humanity (gasp) bleed through.
Brooke Cherie plays the well-known and suspiciously serious Wednesday, who is going through so much change in this story that she’s bordering on Thursday. Cherie does a great job of communicating the struggles of a young woman in her family and the inner and outer adversity that can occur amidst the important milestones in our lives. It was effectively uncomfortable in the best of ways to see moments where Wednesday stepped away from the character we know and love (and fear). Adding to this Cherie’s outstanding vocal range, as evidenced in "Pulled" we have a truly excited portrayal of this character occuring on stage. I enjoyed the chemistry between Wednesday and Lucas Beineke, played by Josh Kable, who embodies this loveablely awkward character (with a great voice) and helps in bringing some really fun moments, such as the performance of "One Normal Night". An apple and a blindfold also come to mind, but if you’re wise, you’ll see what I mean. Elijah Alkhair did wonderful work in the role of the pain-loving Pugsley Addams. Alkhair was consistent in his character and, among a stage full of powerhouses, had clear moments to shine on stage. I was very impressed with his vocal ability and confidence, as seen clearly in his performance of "What If?".
It wouldn’t be the Addams Family without our lovable oddballs. Murray Baker (Uncle Fester), Mark Gardner (Lurch), and Ileana Pipitone (Grandma Addams) all brought a wonderful energy to the stage, and their physicality and humorous moments within the show were wildly entertaining. Between some very incoherent conversations, scandalous disclosures from a 102-year-old granny, and just wonderfully ridiculous declarations of celestial love, I was quite literally having to stifle my cackling so that I wouldn’t steal focus from all the talent on stage. Jeff Mabey (Mal Beineke) and Bernice Keen (Alice Beineke) do a great job of bringing a little slice of normalcy to the stage, and it was so much fun to see how this is diluted and slowly polluted through their interactions with the Addams Family. The chemistry between the two was evident, and it was great to see their characters flounder in confusion amidst the chaos. I’ll also give a quick mention to ensemble member Rebecca Saad - her Ancestor Bride kept capturing my attention in the best ways, as she was consistently on and emoting her pain. No part is a small part, and she proves this. I honestly wish I could write more about all of these excellent characters as well as all of the amazingly talented ensemble members, because everyone was killing it on stage last night!
There may have been a line dropped sparingly and a very rare technical issue, but it was handled so professionally, and, honestly, who am I to fault a cast that has clearly put their hearts and souls into this show? And let's not forget that this is opening night. Opening Night, people. Miranda Musical Theatre Company has put on an exciting, energetic, and, most importantly, wacky production of The Addams Family - A New Musical. I fear they’ve set a very high standard for any other productions of this that I will see in the future.
I give this production 4.7 dance numbers on a family member’s grave (with them dancing along) out of 5.
Photography provided by Grant Leslie