TOP

Theater review: The Addamses drop in on Fresno and stay for a laugh-filled, wonderfully sung visit at Roger Rocka’s

It’s nice to know that even after recent tribulations — floods, the pandemic, $33 quesadillas — the various Addamses are still comfortably ensconced in their large, scary mansion in Central Park. It’s never quite clear how America’s favorite macabre family nabbed such a prime piece of real estate, but it’s nice to know that if you take just the wrong turn in the park, you might stumble into their world.

Pictured above: The cast of ‘The Addams Family’ in the number ‘Full Disclosure’ at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater. Photo: Edgar Olivera, Good Company Players

For a time, however, they’re on vacation. Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and the rest are shacked up at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater in the first large-scale Good Company Players musical since the pandemic began. “The Addams Family,” directed by Elizabeth Fiester, brings a large chunk of silly fun to a time that can use all the laughs it can get. Impressive vocals and some fiercely good casting are strong points. And, as I was with the original “Addams” GCP production that played in 2014, I’m entranced by the ensemble of whimsical “ancestors” who cram the stage with a bumbling finesse.

The musical plays through Nov. 7. Here’s a review roundup:

The opening notes: You know the drill. Snap snap.

The storyline: Wednesday (the daughter, not the day of the week, played by Kindle Lynn Cowger) wants to get married, but she’s afraid to tell her mother because her very normal boyfriend, Lucas (Jeremy Marks), is too, well, nice. After confiding in Gomez (Lex Martin), she and her dad scheme to keep the news from Morticia (Paige Parker). But what happens when the boyfriend and his parents (Gordon Moore and Jessica Sarkisian) come over for dinner?

SPONSORED CONTENT


The ancestors: On a special night once a year, the family summons the spirits of their deceased relatives for a big party. In this case, however, Uncle Fester (Steve Souza) enlists the clan’s involuntary help in solving the Wednesday wedding dilemma. Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed’s monochromatic, white-themed costumes depict a flurry of time periods and styles.

The tone: “The Addams Family” derives much of its comic potency from the weird mixture of humor and the macabre. The Broadway musical (with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and underrated music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa) mostly smooths over anything gruesome with wisecracks, but the effort to balance laughs and grimness can sometimes feel awkward. The saving grace, thankfully, is that the show (mostly) doesn’t try too hard. Besides, any comic song that can work “canker sore” and “Hepatitis B” into the lyrics is worth a chuckle.

The vocals: A tip of the funeral headdress to vocal coach Judith Dickison for some strong singers among the principals and ensemble.

The breakout performances: Martin has for years been a familiar face to GCP audiences, making his mark in smaller and ensemble roles. This time, as Gomez, he shines in a leading role — a sly, suave performance percolated with charm and a brisk sense of comic timing. Zachary Taylor gets in some amusing acting moments as Pugsley. Brian Rhea lurches around quite nicely as Lurch. And then there’s Jeremy Marks as Lucas, whom I’ve watched grow up in the Junior Company and slides into this featured role of the earnest suitor with an appealing, debonair-meets-nerdy flair.


Theater preview: Does Lex Martin wear a pinstripe suit and moon over Morticia in Good Company’s ‘Addams Family’ revival? Of corpse he does.

The veterans: Parker does a nice job as Morticia, which I think is the toughest role in the show because she has to sparkle while projecting a sense of benign ennui. Tracy Jones, as Grandma, blurts out “I just peed” with warmth. Souza, Sarkisian and Moore are crisply cast. (Moore’s eye roll has never been so appropriate.) A highlight is Cowger, whose portrayal of Wednesday still soars. (In my 2014 Bee review, I described her thus: “Hunched and sullen, she punctuates her dark moods with amusing sunny interludes.”) One of my favorite parts of the show came in the poignant song “Happy Sad,” when she finds a strong emotional father-daughter connection with Gomez.

Edgar Olivera

Tracy Jones, as Grandma, and Zachary Taylor, as Pugsley, in a scene from Good Company Players’ ‘The Addams Family’ at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater.

The showstopper: Souza’s rendition of “The Moon and Me” delivers sweet sentiment and solid stagecraft, with Joielle Adams and Andrea Henrickson’s lighting design and David Pierce’s scenic design adding to the visual impact. The number also boasts some fun choreography (show credit is shared by Sarkisian and Sousa, doing double duty), creating a happy blue-violet vibe.

The quibbles: Though Fiester does an admirable job of shoehorning the large cast into the small Roger Rocka’s stage, there were a few moments in the opening-weekend performance I attended that I felt like some of the direction could be sharpened. The opening sequence, when we get to see the family in official portrait mode, didn’t feel as precise as it should have. A pivotal scene in the second act involving a flying arrow feels rushed; this is one of those moments that should be milked for suspense (and laughs). And I’m hoping that some of the ensemble choreography tightens up during the run.

The takeaway: Still, it’s a fun revival of an amiable show. You might not want to book an Airbnb with the Addams Family on your next trip to New York. But, by all means, drop by and say hi when they’re in Fresno. They’re sure to darken your day.


The Munro Review has no paywall but is financially supported by readers who believe in its non-profit mission of bringing professional arts journalism to the central San Joaquin Valley. You can help by signing up for a monthly recurring paid membership or make a one-time donation of as little as $3. All memberships and donations are tax-deductible.


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

Comments (1)

  • Emily Adams

    This Adams Family is excited to see the show!

    reply

Leave a Reply