In Defense of Addams
November 29, 2001

Last night, The Addams Family musical opened on Broadway, starring Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane. We’ve been waiting for this event at Dance Teacher ever since Bebe talked to us about creating the role of Morticia and how her dance training has influenced her career. (Check out the interview here.) Unfortunately, the reviewers have not been kind. I’ve always been a sucker for musicals, but, I must admit, I really loved it! All in all, that opening-night audience had a ton of fun. These were my ten favorite aspects of the hilariously morbid musical:    


1. The opening pose: When the curtain parted, and the awkwardly creepy Addams Family was revealed standing motionless among gravestones, the audience went wild, and I got the shivers. Infusing the opening number, “When You’re an Addams” with the classic Addams Family snaps, was truly picture perfect.  


2. The dress: There are very few people that could pull off Morticia Addams’ comically tight dress “cut down to Venezuela.” Actually, Bebe Neuwirth may be the only one. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to walk, let alone dance, in that creation, but Neuwirth was truly morticious from black-wigged head to pointy toe.   


3. Grandma: This character may have offered nothing but comic relief, but she offered oh so much of it. Jackie Hoffman’s transformation into hunched over, 103-year old Grandma was truly amazing. That woman could not open her mouth without the audience dying of laughter. All she had to do was stand there, always making a strange new face, and you couldn’t help but chuckle. 


4. The monster under Pugsley’s bed: This and other creepy crawlies hidden throughout the house were not only humorous, but awesomely executed. The puppetry by Basil Twist was truly phenomenal, and when the full extent of the squid in the basement was finally revealed, it was hard to believe that “calamari” wasn’t going to jump right into the audience.   


5. The songs still stuck in my head: “Full Disclosure” will be there for a while, and that’s fine with me.  Loved the silly little choreography that went along with it, too. Also, “Let’s not Talk About Anything Else But Love,” especially with Grandma’s added sound effects.   


6. Pugsley: I’m always blown away by kids who can dominate a Broadway stage on their own. During eleven-year-old Adam Riegler’s big solo number, “What If,” you would’ve thought he’d had decades of onstage experience. Bravo little guy!   


7. Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth: Obviously, but it had to be said, these two are Broadway royalty for a reason. They have an unbelievable presence on stage that is totally magical.  


8. The Addams Ancestors: While unlikely that Gomez and Uncle Fester are descendants of a troupe of lithe, gorgeous dancers, it was worth suspending my disbelief to see this group, all-in-white strutting their stuff to Sergio Trujillo’s choreography. In “Tango de Amor”, I must admit, they even stole the stage from Morticia and Gomez.  


9. The set: “Their house is a museum, where people come to see ’em.” The staircases and moving furniture added the perfect amount of creepy glamour. Every set change left me breathless.  Even the curtain was impressive, always moving to perfectly frame the action.  


10. The snappy one-liners: Reminiscent of the original Addams Family comics, certain lines deserved endless laughs. Off the top of my head: When Morticia pauses amidst singing her big number, “Just Around the Corner” to ask the audience, “Get it? Death is just around the coroner?” When Alice asks Morticia what the one thing that everyone needs but few people have (clearly referring to love) and Morticia responds, “Healthcare?” And, again, pretty much everything that Grandma says.


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