The Addams Family
Ironic but true, the production of "The Addams Family" at Broward Center, although entertaining, is just too PG. The TV show had an edgy sophistication; its characters embodied an offbeat individuality that my generation embraced.
Yes, John Astin's Gomez was silly and Uncle Fester was always blowing something up in the basement/torture chamber, and yet they were in sharp contrast to Wednesday's deadpan affect and Morticia's coy, cool assuredness.
That doesn't happen here; in this version pouty teen Wednesday (Jennifer Fogarty) has fallen in love with aspiring writer (Bryan Welmicki) and invites his parents (Mark Poppleton and Blair Anderson) to dinner at the Addams' family estate. She whines to her dad, Gomez, played with delightful abandon by Jesse Sharp, persuading him to convince Morticia (Keleen Snowgren) that this is a good idea.
Mom agrees, on the condition that they play her favorite parlor game, Full Disclosure, a version of truth or dare. Pugsley (Sam Primack in an ill-fitting costume) steals one of Grandma's (Amanda Bruton) potions and spikes the truth-telling chalice. This is the premise for what should be a creepy, kooky evening, but it's not. No ghosts appear to frighten the guests, even though Uncle Fester (Shaun Rice, acting as both Cupid and narrator), blackmails ancestors of the family, in a variety of period costumes, to help him make sure true love prevails.
If you expect to see Thing, a disembodied hand in a box, he only appears behind the curtain in the opening act. Cousin It is also an afterthought, popping out through the curtain at the beginning of Act Two) on a table next to the large wicker Peacock chair where Morticia reigns, then you will be disappointed.
Instead, there are representations of various locals and a backdrop for the home's interior. This is certainly a benefit for the touring production. Except for a scene of Uncle Fester floating in the sky flirting with the moon, there are no special effects or show-stopping numbers.
Full front staging, simplistic choreography (the long awaited tango of Gomez and Morticia just seemed tired) and an ensemble of ghostly ancestors, dressed naturally in white, do little to add to the visual appeal. You won't go home humming any of the songs, but the singing is powerful, especially Fogarty's Wednesday.
Even with the few topical references to Charlie Sheen's sobriety, homeschooling, Jehovah's witnesses, Obamacare, weapons' permits and the adolescent obsession with texting, aimed to amuse the adults, the show is geared for kids.
There were several in the under-twelve crowd there, and truth told, "The Addams Family" is a good show to expose the kids to musical theater. You can see it here or wait until it is produced in your local high school, where I predict the show will find a second life.
"The Addams Family" runs through Apr. 21 at the Broward Center, 201 SW 5th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. For information or tickets, call 954-522-5334 or visit www.browardcenter.org/