At a time when everything from “SpongeBob SquarePants” to “The Brady Bunch” has been transformed into a stage musical – with varying degrees of success – “The Addams Family” is one of the few shows to make a successful transition from cult TV series to entertaining stage production. The Alhambra Theatre & Dining’s new production is no exception: Just in time for Halloween, The Alhambra’s “Addams Family” offers a fiendishly fun evening with America’s creepiest clan.
Like Charlie Brown before it, “The Addams Family” began as a comic strip that found its way to television before making the leap to Broadway. It was in the 1960s – when primetime TV was populated by such wacky, supernatural shows as “The Munsters,” “My Favorite Martian,” “I Dream of Jeannie” and “My Mother the Car” – that widespread audiences first came to know the ghoulish Addams Family. And they’re all present and accounted for in The Alhambra’s production, which due to the presence of a few, mild expletives is more of a PG-rated production than the television show. There’s patriarch Gomez Addams and his stately wife, Morticia; somber siblings Wednesday and Pugsley; and good old Lurch, Uncle Fester and Grandma. Even Cousin Itt and Thing make cameo appearances in this fun romp through one night in the lives of this fiendish family.
In this incarnation of “The Addams Family” saga, sullen little Wednesday has grown into a sullen teenager and fallen in love with a boy who is – gasp! – normal. Determined to gain her parents’ blessing to wed, Wednesday invites her intended and his family to meet her…unusual family at their macabre mansion. In the song “One Normal Night,” Wednesday pleads with her kooky kin to at least try to appear like a typical family so as not to scare off her suitor, Lucas, and his straitlaced parents, Mal and Alice Beineke from – gulp! – Ohio.
While Gomez is wistfully resigned to the fact that his little girl is little no more (“Wednesday’s Growing Up”), Morticia opposes hosting the Beinekes – so much so, that Wednesday begs her father not to tell her mother of her desire to marry Lucas. Much of the ensuing gothic hilarity results from the wedge this deception drives between her parents (“Secrets”), even as Uncle Fester plays cupid (“But Love”), enlisting the Addams Family’s ghostly ancestors to help true love take its course.
While the TV show focused more on ghoulish sight gags, the stage production imbues the characters with new depth and heart. Amid the entertaining song and dance numbers – which, in a nod to Gomez’s heritage, feature a Latin rhythm – “The Addams Family” digs deep into the family’s relationships and how Wednesday’s potential marriage will disrupt their morbid family unit. Will Gomez and Morticia’s tempestuous relationship survive the deception? Will the Beinekes bolt at the sight of their future in-laws? And how will Pugsley get along without his older sister around to torture him (“What If”)?
Boasting a talented cast with a string of Broadway and national touring credits, “The Addams Family” runs at The Alhambra through Nov. 12.