Review: Musical Theater of Denton’s ‘The Addams Family’ — a show to die for

Published in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 30, 2015

It was a dark and stormy night – the perfect setting for the Musical Theater of Denton’s performance of The Addams Family.

(Ironically, I almost died twice in the torrential monsoon on the way up from Dallas to see the show.)

I walked in to the Campus Theater off the square through a side door to witness the lobby, decorated spooktacularly as the inside of the Addams home.

But it wasn’t a somber event. The laughs of the lively audience started before the show even began.

“Remember: if you have small children with you, make sure to eat them,” the announcer said as the houselights dimmed.

The Addams Family musical seems to pick up years after the movies left off — filling the void we’ve all craved since the unfortunate Addams Family Reunion.

Morticia and Gomez want to continue living the way they always have. But Wednesday has fallen in love with a “normal” boy from Ohio, Lucas Beineke.  The Addams invite the Beinekes to their home for dinner. Secrets are kept and strain is put onto the family that relishes in pain and suffering.

It’s said the musical follows the characterizations of the animated TV show. But, the makeup, costumes and set design were stylized perfectly after the 1991 movie. In fact, the entire production mirrored the early ’90s films.

Alexis Romero, who portrayed Gomez, delivered each punch line of his dad-like one-liners and each song of his devotion to his wife Morticia, played by Anjelica Houston’s younger doppelganger Liz J Millea, in the style of Raul Julia down to the accent. Millea also gesturized like her predecessor in the role.

Paul Iwanicki played Uncle Fester with the mischievousness of Christopher Loyd, and taught us to love how only Fester can. Kristen Brasher played Grandma Addams, “who may or may not be in the family”. Her hilarious portrayal left me crying from laughter by intermission.

Jason Joos, who played Mal Beineke, made for a potent antagonist — but could have annunciated more as he was often unintelligible. Kristi Smith Johnson, who played Alice Beineke, Lucas’ mother, was surprisingly funny and showed some of the greatest character depth onstage.

The dynamic between Cameron Dinger (Pugsley) and Meagan Black (Wednesday) was perfect and I wish there were more scenes with just the two of them; but the chemistry between Black and Jacob Lewis, who played her love interest Lucas, was lacking.

Lewis had a brilliant improvised line that received thunderous laughter when Black accidentally calls him by his real name, yelling “It’s Lucas!”

However, most of the time Lewis was difficult to hear as his microphone seemed to be turned down.

Overall, it was a true ensemble cast — no actor outshining another. Though at times, even Lurch stole the show without saying a word.

Directors Bill Kirkley and Choreographer Rebecca McDonald made sure the entire stage was used effectively. Some of my favorite scenes, like Wednesday’s loving torture of Pugsley, were conducted on the sides of the stage.

There was not an opportunity missed, except maybe long drop for a mischievous boy from the second story of Addams mansion. The writers even made pointed social commentary in the liberal persuasion.

Of course, no Addams Family production is complete without a killer Dancing with the Stars-esque tango between a loving husband and wife.

Standing ovation after a killer dance and intoxicating musical numbers in second act left everyone snapping and humming out of theater.

The show has some language and sexual references and is inappropriate for children; but, it teaches the values of family and love. Cherish your families, folks.

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