Reviewed by Tricia Shaw
Vivo D’arte is back again with the Stage Experience production for the third year running at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. This year we have been treated to a fantastic show in the form of The Addams Family, the musical written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The story is set in New York, America in the Addams family house in Central Park. The Addams family are not a “normal” family; being sad or in pain is happiness for them, Pugsley wants his sister to torture him. Wednesday is now grown up and has fallen in love with a normal respectable boy, Lucas, from Ohio.
However, she has not told her parents that she wants to marry him. She has arranged a dinner for Lucas and his parents at their house to see how the families get along. How will the various relationships stand up to the stresses of the night? Will love prevail?
The principal characters were well cast. Casey Bird played the elegant Morticia Addams, giving a very convincing performance and she definitely looked the part. Gomez Addams was played by James Penniston who has a very strong voice and excellent stage presence. He was always clear to hear and his range of accents in “the game” was noteworthy. More excellent singing came from Molly Durston with a very confident performance in her part as Wednesday. She looked great too.
Felix Forsyth also gave a very confident performance as Pugsley and his solo was excellent. The comedic presence was provided by Fester (Alfie Glasser), Grandma Addams (Poppy Jackson) and Lurch (Kristian Nobbs). All three were brilliant in their roles and Fester’s make-up was fantastic and his (lack of) hair showed dedication to his craft.
The roles of the Beineke family were smaller but Harry Wyatt (Lucas), Luke Canavan (Mal) and Lucy Scott (Alice) all contributed fantastic performances. Unfortunately, there were a few technical issues with the mics which meant that it was hard to hear in places, but the cast coped well with these difficulties.
This was an ambitious production with a huge cast of over 150 young people ranging from just 6 years old up to 25 years old. With so many youngsters involved the Ancestors have been split into 2 gangs with some only appearing in half the performances; we saw those on stage on Thursday evening. I was struck by the huge range of costumes for the Ancestors including Medieval, Edwardian, Native American and World War soldiers, amongst many many others. It was evident that a lot of effort had gone into all the costumes so it was not surprising to be told that it amounted to 300 hours. Nonetheless my favourite costume must be Morticia’s dress – it was truly amazing and dark. The costumes, hair and makeup teams must be congratulated on a visually spectacular production.
There were a variety of dances choreographed for the chorus which showed a range of techniques and which required precision from each dancer. They were confidently performed by all and with just eight days of rehearsals this was very impressive.
The scenery whilst seemingly simple was carefully designed and used to the max enabling such a large cast to be on stage at once. Lighting and other special effects were used very effectively to produce the required eerie atmosphere. Props were not numerous but again these were used well and added to the whole experience.
The music, played by a live orchestra, is unlike a lot of the current west end musicals. The score was enjoyable although it was a shame that the well-known Addams family theme tune did not make more of an appearance in the musical.
As a production it was great, although some younger audience members seemed to find it a bit long; I would probably not take anyone aged under 8. The characters and plot stayed true to the original stories and it had various levels of humour to appeal to different ages. It was a shame that Thing did not make an appearance and I felt that the ancestors’ role could have been made clearer. All in all it was a very enjoyable evening. Well done to all involved.
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Stage Experience presents: The Addams Family is at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury from 15-18 August 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury or call the box office on 0844 871 7607.
Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP20 1UG | 0844 871 7607