Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Addams Family (The SOB Review)

The Addams Family (The SOB Review) - Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York City, New York

**1/2 (out of ****)

So there I was walking down Eighth Avenue.

Much to my delight, I realized I was walking side-by-side with Jackie Hoffman, who portrays Grandma in the new musical based on Charles Addams' cheekily macabre New Yorker cartoons.

Now, Hoffman doesn't know me from Adam. Heck, for that matter, she doesn't even know me from The Addams Family. But she was quite receptive to my chatting her up. I couldn't resist informing her I had seen the show during its Chicago tryout. With brutal honesty, I admitted I hadn't enjoyed it much there.

But I also told her I had just seen The Addams Family again on Broadway the very evening before our chance meeting. Without being one least bit sycophantic, I shared how much improved I believed the tuner had become since Chicago. Indeed, the show is tighter and fortunately much snappier. Even better is that Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have tipped the balance more toward the eponymous brood's favor than that clan of interlopers who had me scratching my head in Chicago.

The one last thing I told Hoffman before saying goodbye was while I enjoyed her hilarious comic turn, I still wondered why she didn't have a solo number. She took that comment in stride, literally, and then graciously thanked me and asked me to spread the word about the show.

So here goes.

The critical response certainly been less than kind, often bordering on scathing. But the truth is that the show isn't all that bad.

The Addams Family offers geniune laughs, particularly during its first act. It also turns out to be quite a bona fide crowd pleaser with many brilliantly eccentric turns, from the king of comic-timing Nathan Lane -- whose Gomez consistently rises above the book and Andrew Lippa's lackluster score -- to Kevin Chamberlin's scene-stealing Uncle Fester. As Morticia, Bebe Neuwirth at least looks great, but as much as I've admired her acting prowess, her singing voice isn't what it once was. But she sure still has the moves.

As in Chicago, I still admire Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch's evocative scenic design. Rich in dark reds and black and supplemented by Natasha Katz’s lighting, the stage is resplendent with a creepy vibe.

The show may still not be a complete scream, but compared with Chicago, there's at least plenty more here for people wanting to come see ‘em.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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