By Michael Nielsen
We’ve seen them in black and white on TV and on the big screen in living color … Now they are seen singing and dancing on stage at The Empress Theatre in Magna, Utah.
The story follows the Addams family as their daughter Wednesday falls in love and tries to introduce her boyfriend’s family to hers, worrying that her family members are not “normal.” As both families are explored, we learn to question what normal really means.
The TV show and movies were entertaining because this abnormal family considers itself to be normal, so their oddities and funny lines are simply presented as part of who they are. There are times this works well in this production, but often we are fed the joke as if to say “this is funny!” instead of just letting it be funny.
The performers all have many moments of great fun and talent, and they especially shine when they are singing their songs. I saw the “A” cast (there is no listing of when the “A” or “B” cast perform, so if you know someone in the show, you may want to call and find out when they are performing) who put their all in to the show and were obviously having a great time, and the audience definitely enjoyed itself.
The ensemble presented themselves from the very start as past relatives of the Addams’ as they came out of the cemetery singing and dancing. The costumes by Melissa Buxton, Amy Burton, Michele Brown, Carrie Johnson, Jake Anderson and the cast were very clever as each relative was a white clad version of what they had been in life; including a caveman, cowboy, saloon girl, flapper, bride, American Indian Princess, Hippie and even a flight attendant. I couldn’t help but feel that each cast member was greatly responsible for their character and costume, and each stayed in character throughout the show as they waited to be released to their graves by love. Many of the most enjoyable scenes included the ensemble.
Gomez (Matt Green) was lovable and fun to watch, as was Moticia (Chisanne Sueltz) in her own, macabre way. Both certainly shined in their musical numbers. Uncle Fester (Nathan Unck) brought lightness, love and fun to the show as did the ever-in-character Grandma (JoAnn Galloway). Love-struck Wednesday (Jennica Henderson) gave a great musical performance, although her acting was a bit self-conscious. Pugsly (Gaven Suelt) charmed the audience even though his acting was a little less polished. Lurch (Garret Sueltz) was oddly charming, even with only grunts and moans.
At times the performance seemed a little off and the actors seemed to be trying too hard. I felt like the director, Jake Anderson, could have worked with the actors a little more to perfect their comic timing and help them to feel more comfortable and natural on the stage. There were times of brilliance when the actors forgot they were trying to be funny and that there was an audience. These moments made the show a lot of fun.
There is not a lighting designer listed, which may be the reason the actors were often in the dark without their faces being visible. I do believe that part of the darkness was an attempt to keep the show “dark” and may have simple been a lack of lights available in the theatre.
Overall, the audience couldn’t help but be caught up in the enthusiasm of the cast, the moments of brilliance, and the joy of seeing characters we know and love on stage singing and dancing.
The Empress Theater
9104 West 2700 South, Magna, UT 84044
June 20th – July 26th
Monday, Friday, Saturday 7:30 PM
Matinee June 28 and July 12 at 2:00 PM
Tickets $10. Group Discounts Available.