LALO’s Addams Family A Great Halloween Treat

Morticia Addams (Giovanna Garofalo) dances with Death and the Ghostly Chorus. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Wednesday (Valerie Lawdensky) and Pugsley (Holly Robinson) play a favorite game. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos Daily Post

How much you will enjoy the Los Alamos Light Opera’s Addams Family may depend on how you like your Addamses–mysterious and spooky or altogether kooky. This version definitely leans heavily on the comic aspects of this strange but endearing family.

 The show is based upon The Addams Family characters created by Charles Addams in his single-panel cartoons, which depict an American family with an affinity for all things weird and scary.

This rendition of the beloved Addams Family is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The Addams family in all its renditions –cartoons, TV shows and movies, treads the line between the comic and the macabre. Those who miss the darker side of the Addams Family will need to relax and just enjoy the fun to appreciate the show.

The plot centers on the upsets that occur when a grown up Wednesday Addams (Valerie Lawdensky) falls for an all-American boy from Ohio named Lucas Beineke (Kevin Pelzel). Lucas and his parents Mal (Scot Johnson) and Alice (Jess Cullinan) have been invited to dinner at the Addams family mansion, situated in Central Park. Wednesday wants everyone to act “normal” which is a tall order for this bizarre family.

 Parents Morticia (Giovanna Garofalo) and Gomez (Bear Schacht) and little brother Pugsley (Holly Robinson) are worried their Wednesday, a deadpan narcissist with a sadistic streak, is turning into Little Miss Sunshine.  It turns out the Beinekes have some secrets of their own which are bound to come out in this situation. Uncle Fester (John Cullinan) enlists the family ghosts to help handle things and mayhem ensues.

The show works best at its most comedic. The story is pretty smaltzy, and I started wishing for the next laugh line during the tender moments. Luckily, there are plenty of laughs to be had, mainly due to the wonderful cast.

Schacht is great as Gomez. He has good stage presence and a great voice. Garofalo is likewise terrific as Morticia. Ditto the great voice and good stage presence. John Cullinan is also very good as Uncle Fester, especially when leading the ghostly revels with a truly marvelous chorus. Robinson is a real standout as Pugsley. She makes a very good weird small boy.

All three Bienekes are good, especially Cullinan as Alice. Her talents continue to amaze and she captures the audience’s attention whenever she’s on stage.

I loved the big musical numbers with the ghostly chorus. Their costumes are truly spectacular. A shout out to Pam Justice who did the costumes is in order. The set, designed by Director Cindy Hines and Producer Laurie Tomlinson, is minimal but effective.

The direction by Hines is spot on. Choreography by Brooke Davis is standout excellent. The dance numbers were a wonderful spectacle. Lots of people singing and dancing is my favorite part of musical theatre and The Addams Family did not disappoint. With the exception of a few standouts like Full Disclosure, Just Around the Corner and Crazier Than You, the music is pretty forgettable in spite of the best efforts of the orchestra, conducted by Gretchen Amstutz, who do a wonderful job, and the aforementioned singing talents of the cast.

If some darkness is missing, leaning on comedy makes the show more appealing  to younger kids, which is a plus. It’s over two hours long, so keep that in mind. As I left the theater, one young audience member was overheard to say, “This is the best play I’ve ever seen in … forever.”

The Los Alamos Light Opera production of The Adams Family continues at 7:30 p.m. today and Nov. 1-2, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday Oct. 27 at Duane Smith Auditorium. Tickets are available online, at CB FOX and at the door for $15 general admission and $12 for seniors and students.

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