Theatre Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY – Opera House, Manchester

Scott Paige as Uncle Fester (centre) with the cast of THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Credit Pamela Raith

Scott Paige and the cast of THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Despite its strong cast performance, THE ADDAMS FAMILY’s musical score lacks memorable melodies and spectacular harmonies to make it something special.

3 out of 5 stars

MOVE TOWARD THE DARKNESS and allow yourself to be PULLED in by THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Manchester’s Opera House: the distinct, gothic musical-comedy will have you laughing and falling in love in perfect synchronicity.

Wednesday Addams (Kingsley Morton) has fallen for a ‘normal’ boy and is completely torn, trapped between her strong, family-orientated background and her desire to marry Lucas (Matthew Ives), a boy from a not-so-gothic but not-so-normal family of his own. As his little girl grows up, Gomez Addams (Cameron Blakely) is trapped between his loyalties to her and his strong, fiery wife, Morticia (Joanne Clifton) – does he break his promise to his daughter but, in doing so, break his vows to his beloved? And more importantly, just how fixed are family traditions?

Kara Lane as Alice Beineke & Joanne Clifton as Morticia Addams in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Credit Pamela Raith

Kara Lane & Joanne Clifton in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Blakely steals the show, along with Uncle Fester (Scott Paige), with their superb comedic timing keeping the audience laughing. The characterisation of the whole cast is strong throughout, but Blakely’s serious demeanour allows for moments of brilliant juxtaposition between the comedy and his imposing mannerisms. His performance as Gomez travels through a range of emotions. You can see the changes he goes through, initially in the more light-hearted songs TWO-THINGS and TRAPPED, before leading us right into HAPPY SAD as he realises just how much his daughter, Wednesday, has matured.

Paige’s borderline (and sometimes not so much) fourth wall breaking as part of the near narration allows the audience to feel part of the action and be in no doubt of Fester’s plans. Leading the excellent ensemble of family ancestors, he takes the story into new ground with BUT LOVE – perhaps this won’t simply be a shallow, laugh-fest after all.

A special mention also must go to Ryan Bennett as Lurch, the zombified butler. It is expertly crafted for a seemingly ‘simple’ character choice and allows for great moments of comedy through nothing more than a lack of movement.

From a music perspective, THE ADDAMS FAMILY is somewhat lacking. This isn’t a musical full of memorable melodies or spectacular harmonies, and as such, the cast isn’t given the best opportunities to demonstrate their abilities.

Cameron Blakely as Gomez Addams & Joanne Clifton as Morticia Addams in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Credit Pamela Raith

Cameron Blakely & Joanne Clifton in THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

That said, certain songs do allow these, namely PULLED, TRAPPED and BUT LOVE Morton has indisputable range, and she moves through the former with ease. However, some of the higher sections lack power, although this could be down to mic levels as some parts are hard to hear) Similarly, Blakely demonstrates his prowess in the final moments of TRAPPED, but the song only allows it briefly.

For such a dark show, the moments of contrast are key. A perfect example of this is in SECRETS, as Alice Beineke (Kara Lane) realises the reality of her marriage. The mostly cold set and presence of the ancestral ghosts lead us down a shadowy path. Still, Lane’s striking mustard-yellow dress and sweet, angelic voice contradict Clifton’s surly, sensual approach, ultimately leading to even Alice embracing her darker side.

As the show builds, so does the strain on the relationship between Gomez and Morticia. Hints of their weekly dances are dropped throughout and serve as a reminder of their love for one another before it explodes in the highly choreographed Latin rhythms. Here, Clifton’s dance background comes to the fore, dominating the stage and bringing energy back to an otherwise serene second act.

Overall, despite what is clearly a hugely talented and solid cast, the audience is left wanting more. While you find yourself empathising with the characters, the relationships could be stronger to build on the strong foundations, and the vocals are good without being spectacular.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY runs at the Opera House, Manchester, until 23 April 2022.