This is not your father’s Addams Family -- although father might like this Morticia’s dress, which looks like it was plucked from Elvira’s closet.
With the heritage of Charles Addams’ brilliantly wicked cartoons, a kitschy (to some, beloved) ‘60s television show and two ‘90s films on its shoulders, The Addams Family musical had a lot to live up to when it opened on Broadway two years ago. Fortunately, writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (“Jersey Boys” collaborators) were clever and intuitive enough to evoke just the right amount of the Addams’ forebears’ past while crafting a book that is true to the characters’ benign ghoulishness. It’s also funny, mostly in the first act.
The national touring production of The Addams Family musical-comedy resides through Sunday at the Civic Theatre downtown. It’s the proper-sized venue for the show’s stage magic and cartoonish set pieces. (The latter supercede the laughs in ballad-happy Act 2, but oh well.) The songs by Andrew Lippa are jaunty, serviceable vehicles for a stellar cast’s sight gags and choreography. The pre-intermission “Full Disclosure” number, with the ensemble gathered together like a last supper, best embodies the comically macabre Addams spirit. Never mind the story line – the nearly-grown Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson) wants to marry a “normal” boy (Brian Justin Crum). The Addams Family is a devil-may-care romp for rakish Gomez (Douglas Sills) and statuesque Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger), for the screwball antics of scene-stealing Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond), and for timely interjections of contemporary cultural references (a la Charlie Sheen).
Mining for messages (who, or what is normal, for example) or commentary (the value of acceptance) is negligible. This is all about having a ghostly good time, five months before Halloween.
The Addams Family isn’t too dark for kids, but it may be too insider and insinuative for most. Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy) is in on the jokes, and that’s good enough.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.