Snap your fingers and enjoy “Addams Family”

Reviewed by Lincoln Pennington
Times-News correspondent

DURHAM — The creepy, kooky Addams Family has found its way to Durham through the new musical, “The Addams Family,” now being performed at the Durham Performing Arts Center. This touring version is a revised version of the Tony-nominated Broadway show, which originally starred Nathan Lane.

“The Addams Family” follows an older and recently engaged Wednesday Addams as she tries to make her relationship with the “normal” boy and her family work.

Opening to the classic, snappy theme song, the audience is immediately greeted by the entire Addams Family clan, who describe what it means “When You’re an Addams.” The show continues through what feels like a series of vignettes, which is fitting as the original concept for the show was based on New Yorker cartoons. From Grandma to the Beineke family, the classic characters are all in the show, as well as several new characters.

Cortney Wolfson and Jonathan Ritter, who play Wednesday Addams and Lucas Beineke respectively, make an energetic and engaging couple on stage. Wolfson manages to find the perfect balance between morbidity and lovesickness. Although Wednesday is older in this production than she was in the original material, Wolfson transitions perfectly from struggling adolescent to mature, young woman. The chemistry between Wolfson and Ritter is perfect, as they amaze the audience in numbers like “Crazier Than You.” The two’s commitment to their characters’ relationship really shows, making them perhaps the most realistic and engaging part of the show.

Douglas Sills, who plays Gomez Addams, is another standout performer. The show’s Latin and Flamenco influences are most visible through Sills’ Gomez, who speaks with a Spanish accent as he does the Tango. While this creates several comedic moments, Sills truly shows his acting chops in the song “Happy/Sad,” in which he realizes that his daughter is no longer a child. In a show filled almost entirely with puns and slapstick, this is a very welcome moment that pulls at the heartstrings parents in the audience.

While the plot is formulaic and choppy, the strength and quick wit of the writing makes up for this. Oftentimes, only one or two characters within a show will have witty lines. To the writers’ (Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman) credit, almost every character has a few quick and funny lines. The great lines are perfectly matched by the cast’s comedic timing, making the audience erupt into side-splitting laughter quite often.

“The Addams Family” differs from several of the recent touring productions at DPAC this season, though, because of its highly complex set. As the audience is taken through the Addams’ house, different parts of the set rise and fall, revealing new passages, rooms, etc. The show also uses several levitation tricks so the characters can appear to fly without ever coming too far off of the ground. By creating such elaborate sets on stage for the audience to explore with the characters, the creative team succeeds in truly keeping the audience engaged in the action, ensuring that the sets are neither insufficient or focus-stealing. Whether you’re a diehard Addams Family fan or someone who has never seen them before, the show and its characters are easy to relate to and entertaining to watch. The show is a snapping good time for all.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. March 1, 8 p.m. March 2, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 3 and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. March 4, 2012 

WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center, The American Tobacco District, 123 Vivian St., Durham n TICKETS:

COST: Tickets start at $11 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or by calling the DPAC Ticket Center at (919) 680-2787

Lincoln Pennington is a senior at The Elon School and a Teens & Twenties writer.

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