Written by Patrick Chavis
It’s the beginning of April in 2016 and we are far and away from a time when a show like The Addams Family would feel relevant. For the benefit of the ten percent of people reading this review that aren’t familiar, I’ll mention that the Addams are a family that find pleasure in torture and all things Gothically strange–keeping that in mind, it’s fair to note that the show would probably be better suited to the cold dreary month of October than the hot spring days of April. But strangely enough, Vanguard University’s production is anything but spooky. Instead the musical relies mostly (if not entirely) on comedic witticisms from the cartoon and television series, both of those stories lacked the darker, more sinister feelings from the 90s films. This is the tamest rendition of The Addams Family I’ve ever seen, which is not necessarily a bad thing–it’s family friendly, and the cast mirror the original characters with skill levels which range from good to all-around-exceptional.
The Addams Family’s teenage daughter Wednesday (played by Winter Bassett) has a fascination with death and a seeming aversion to emotions. Despite all this, she’s fallen head over heels for someone who is, by all typical accounts, a nice and normal guy. The primary focus of the play is the dinner date between the young couple’s families, and the consideration of whether it is actually possible for these dramatically different people to get along. The lesson we learn is the lesson in every Addams Family story– acceptance of others and never forget what is most important in life and death– our family bonds. The only thing that can be said about this musical is that it’s too safe. It’s cookie cutter and frankly follows form to such a T that the un-realized potential will leave fans of the franchise sort of indifferent.
The music accompanying the singers sets the mood fantastically, and stays balanced both during and in-between the actor’s singing moments. I would describe it as a mixture of straight forward theme composition with textures of bossa nova jazz and rock thrown into different compositions. Some of the best parts of Vanguard’s production come from the dancing and the choreography put into this show.
It is a real treat to watch the dance sequences, they are the true bread and butter of what makes this entertaining to watch. Choreographer Bretyln Schmitt’s dance sequences are professional and measured. The background dancers (otherwise know as the ‘Addams’ Ancestors’) tap, plie and twist their way into your heart.
The cast has some strong hitters–take note of Austin Nunn. The last time I saw him was in Kiss Me Kate. He was good there–he’s better here. Apparently this is his last performance as a senior at Vanguard, but if keeps going at the rate he is, we will be seeing a lot more shows from Nunn in the future. His Uncle Fester is lovable and true to the character. Both Winter Bassett (Wednesday) and Morticia (Alexandria Miller) are a pleasure to watch as mother and daughter. Yet what really puts this show over the top is the performance by Andreas Schmidt the family patriarch, Gomez Addams. Schmidt plays Gomez with a complete and obvious respect for the character. His mannerisms, his sense of humor, his sensitivity, and the way he holds himself on the stage are all captivating. Schmidt’s performance is nothing short of brilliant.
It’s ironic that a show about being different and distinctive is so generic, but that is clearly not stopping Vanguard’s cast and crew from putting on a genuinely great show.
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April 8 – 24 2016
You can also buy tickets for the continued showings @ http://vanguardtickets.com