Theatre Review: The Addams Family: A New Musical

A recent iteration of The Addams Family, that beloved family saga, this musical is faithful to its honourable origins – the original cartoons by Charles Addams, the ‘sixties TV show and the 1992 animated TV series.

Presented by South Coast Choral & Arts Society (aka SCCAS)
Reviewed 28th April, 2019

Diddly-dum – Click! Click! Diddly-dum – Click! Click!

A recent iteration of The Addams Family, that beloved family saga, this musical is faithful to its honourable origins – the original cartoons by Charles Addams, the ‘sixties TV show and the 1992 animated TV series.

Drawing on those characters more likely to transfer to the live stage, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have written a charming book for this musical. While you may miss Thing and Cousin It, and that creepy menagerie (including a vulture, an octopus and a bunch of piranhas), some things work better on-screen. However, the storyline is strong and suitably quirky; Andrew Lippa’s cheerful musical score bounces with jazz, samba and tango rhythms; the characters are familiar, recognisable friends, and, thanks to director Jonathan Ogilvie and the South Coast Choral and Arts Society, this show is a highly engaging two hours of entertainment, with broad appeal and a surprisingly homely message.

And so, to the management team – director Jonathan Ogilvy has succeeded in pulling together a fine production. He has cleverly enhanced the natural advantages of his venue, cast and crew, and concealed the flaws – much like good makeup. It is evident that his team have assisted his direction in all quarters. Two musical directors are listed; from their résumés it seems that Emma Muhlack can be praised for the excellent singing, clear speech and accent work from both name characters and chorus, while Tim Wormald probably did more with amassing, training and conducting the eleven-piece band. Jack Doherty’s work as choreographer is evident in every scene; he works economically with the space, time and cast available to arrange neat, witty and dramatically relevant movement. Ali Dunbar is listed as vocal coach.  Every theatre piece, spoken or sung, needs one. Her work has lifted the standard of this performance from ordinary to excellent. The design of the production is clever and tidy, yet I know not whom to praise. The programme, although highly informative, fails to mention a production/set designer.

Outstanding among the ten principals are Pugsley (Mitchell Kelsey), Alice (Emma Lynn), Wednesday (Megan Davidson), Uncle Fester (Jon McKay) and Morticia (Georgia Martin). Greg Eden’s Gomez, the Addams family father, is a charming character; he anchors the oddities of his family within very human fears and hopes. Eden does a tremendous job of this pivotal role, using Latin pizazz and accent to offset the difficulty of his relative youthfulness.  Eden’s low baritone range has a beautiful quality, and his unremitting work testifies to his commitment.  Gomez’s beloved wife, Morticia, is here given splendid embodiment in Georgia Martin.  She speaks and sings beautifully, using a broad timbral range, her acting is already good, and could extend even further, and she looks superb in her dramatic black frock. Her soft-shoe feature, Death Is Just Around The Corner, is terrific.

Pugsley’s not much of a role, you might think, but Mitchell Kelsey is busy proving you wrong in this show. His acting is excellent, his vocal skills are developing beautifully, and he has what every actor needs – a consistent sense of his relationship to every other character on stage. Playing his sister Wednesday, cause of much of the concern in the plot, is Megan Davidson, whose strong voice and calm presence alike give her the ability to hold the focus of any scene. In the plum role of “outsider” Alice Beineke, Emma Lynn has the opportunity to act and sing across as broad a range of emotional energies as any actor could wish. She goes from housewife to harpy from a standing start in six seconds, with vocal qualities ranging through opera, blues and rock. Her Waiting is a tour de force.

Part MC, part daft uncle, Jon McKay’s Uncle Fester gleams with genial malice (a very good thing for an Addams). He remains rock-solid throughout, engagingly powering the plot along, while indulging in his own romance with the moon. Don’t ask. Julie Kelly is an alarmingly lively Grandmama; Bill Reddin is precisely the opposite as Lurch; Flynn Turley, as Lucas, Wednesday’s love interest, brings a modicum of sanity to a richly daffy family drama, while Jon Grear plays Lucas’ clueless businessman dad, Mal Beineke.

The fifteen chorus members deserve star billing. Their work is beautifully prepared and executed with effortless finesse. This evidences thorough rehearsal of vocal lines, movement, acting intention and collaborative performance. Director, choreographer, musical directors and vocal coach – take a bow. Your chorus always manages to maintain individual character whilst working as an organic whole. 

Thanks to Mr Wormald’s conducting, music tempi were excellent throughout, although there were some very wobbly entrances by individual instruments.  The brass section, in particular, may need reinforcements.

“It’s family first and family last” is an Addams dictum, and the South Coast Choral and Arts Society has formed a cosy family of creatives, performers, crew and production support* to bring this family show to Victor Harbor. The standard of this production transcends “a bunch of amateurs in a country town having a go at doing a musical”. There is intelligence, diligence, care and affection for the artform in this show. Congratulations, all.

*In the programme, twenty separate businesses, sponsors and partners are listed.  Now, that’s a family!

Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson

Venue: Victor Harbor Town Hall, 12 Coral Street, Victor Harbor. SA  5211

Season: 4th – 18th May, 2019

Duration: 2hrs

Tickets: Full Price: $25:00; Concession: $22:00

Bookings:  https://www.sccas.org.au/

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