Good Shepherd Players’ production of The Addams Family Musical is a wonderful blend of kooky, spooky, and altogether ooky. The Addams Family Musical is based on the original cartoons by Charles Addams with nods to the television show of the 1960s and films of the 1990s. With its music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, it is one of the most popular musicals to produce thanks to the many roles for a variety of ages and vocal ranges. Although the musical is family-friendly, many of the references and quick-witted remarks will elicit more chuckles from older audience members.
The musical takes place over one “normal” night as Wednesday (Maggie Lees) and her love interest Lucas (Danny DeVara) want their parents to meet before they get married. Chaos ensues as two seemingly opposite families find they have more in common than they thought. Greg LaNave as Gomez is a doting father and devoted husband — unfortunately, those two roles are at odds as one of the central conflicts of the show. LaNave as Gomez was energetic and silly, with puns and one-liners on the verge of becoming full-blown dad jokes. My favorite was, “What I lack in depth I make up for in shallowness.”
Christine Maxted as Morticia was a perfect foil, gliding across the stage in a signature tight black dress and seductive tone. Where Gomez is empathetic and works to make his family happy, Morticia is uncompromising, with a stubborn expectation of total obedience. Her rich vocals are especially showcased in “Secrets” and “Death Is Just Around the Corner.” Gomez and Morticia later reconcile and dance a dramatic tango, choreographed by Carol Jean Clark, that is a great nod to the 1993 film Addams Family Values.
Maggie Lees as Wednesday is a vibrant and independent young woman who is confused as she goes through the strange changes caused by love. Lees showcases her powerful voice in “Pulled in a New Direction” and “Crazier Than You” opposite the charming Daniel DeVara playing Lucas Beineke. DeVara’s vocal performance and great character acting make it clear why Wednesday has fallen for him — he is doting and caring like Gomez, with a spark for the dark.
The Beineke Family is a seemingly typical normal midwestern family — complete with traditional patriarchal roles and repressed desires. Parents Mal and Alice Beineke, played by James Maxted and Margaret McGarry respectively, are polar opposites to Gomez and Morticia. James Maxted and Margaret McGarry are both strong vocalists, and McGarry is able to really let her hair down (literally) during “Full Disclosure” as she tells a dark story — too dark even for Gomez!
Standout performances include Cecilia Laird as Pugsley. Her strong vocals and mischievous facial expressions were on full display during the comedic ballad “What If.” The clever and sadistic lyrics are made even funnier when heard through Laird’s beautiful vocal tone. Chris Dockins as Fester nailed the chaotic good character, with wonderful comedic and musical moments throughout the show, especially in “The Moon and Me.” He was joined by a choir of Moon Children donning paper parasols to act as the night sky — it was a simple and moving visual for the star-crossed lovers.
The ancestor ensemble has plenty of personality while still acting as a single core of supporting apparitions. Their costumes are unique but share a similar color palette so they are easy to distinguish the dead from the living — and undecided.
The Addams Family Musical has a deceptively tricky score with a wide range of musical styles and carefully timed comedic moments. The stellar musicians handled these challenges under the capable hands of Music Director Colin Taylor. It’s also worth noting that the balance of a live orchestra and actors wearing mics can be challenging for many theaters — Good Shepherd Players created a production where every contributor could be seen and/or heard. Kudos to Tech Directors Bob Hall and Chris Gray, as well as Will Gotten, John Przybylski, Paula Palmore, and the rest of the technical team.
Director Nancy Lavalle, Producer Steve McBride, and Stage Manager Ben Marple have led their cast and crew to “move toward the darkness and love” — and audiences are sure to love it, too.
Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes, including intermission.
The Addams Family Musical plays through October 30, 2022, presented by Good Shepherd Players performing at Church of the Good Shepherd, 9350 Braddock Road, Burke, VA. Purchase tickets ($10 for children, $20 for adults) online.