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Monday
Oct152018

Market Theatre "Addams Family" October Gust of Ghoulish Fun

By Paul Hyde/Anderson Observer

They're creepy and they're kooky -- but mostly kooky.

The Market Theatre Company's "Addams Family" is an October gust of ghoulish fun.

This Halloween treat, which opened Friday, asks very little of an audience except to sit back and bask in the daffiness of the famously macabre Addams clan, familiar to mostly everyone through Charles Addams' classic Dalton Cole, center, stars as Gomez in the musical "Addams Family," continuing through Oct. 28 at The Market Theatre Company in Anderson.New Yorker cartoons and decades of TV and film adaptations.

Director/choreographer Mary Nickles gives us a peppy production of the 2010 musical, which features an appealing score of uptempo numbers and ballads by Andrew Lippa.

The show, written by the "Jersey Boys" team of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, centers on a crisis in the Addams family involving Wednesday, the daughter. She's been raised to be a black-clad princess of darkness with a drop-dead stare and a penchant for torturing her little brother Pugsley. 

But, oh the horror, Wednesday has fallen in love with a nice, ordinary young man from a painfully normal Midwestern family. It's even suggested that they're (gasp!) Republicans.

Both families take a dim view of the budding relationship. Cultures clash when the Addams family invites the young man and his parents over to dinner.

The story of mismatched families locking horns over youthful romance is an old one (think "La Cage aux Folles," "Abie's Irish Rose" and "Romeo and Juliet"), but sometimes the star-crossed lovers prevail.

The show tosses in plenty of jokes about death, torture and other dark topics.

Nickles brings clarity and a giddy, playful spirit to the show. I liked Friday's opening performance most when it was most extravagant. I've always thought these Addams characters should be played one step below the campy hams of "Rocky Horror."

Nickles elicits fine performances from her cast.

Leading the revels is Dalton Cole as Gomez, the sword-wielding paterfamilias. Cole opts for understatement in a usually flamboyant role (John Astin on TV, Nathan Lane on Broadway), but his suave approach often pays off handsomely, particularly when Cole applies honeyed vocals to his ballad "Happy Sad," about life's contradictions. It's a tear-jerking moment.

DeAnna Gregory is a bewitching Morticia, cool and poised, with the expected rigor mortis posture, and she brings some strong pipes to her big number, "Just Around the Corner," a blithe song about death. 

Sarah Greene's winning Wednesday is a petite tornado of teenage self-assertion. Greene offers a dynamic account of the song "Pulled," about Wednesday's tumultuous feelings of love.

Sean Johnson plays a cheerfully wacky Uncle Fester, in love with the moon.

Eli Stone is terrific as the spunky young Pugsley.

Libby Riggins does a nice turn as the scratchy-voiced Grandma.

Bill Griffith, wonderful as the undead Lurch, towers above the scene with a world-weary snarl. 

Noah Austin offers a sympathetic portrayal of Wednesday's love interest, Lucas.

Becca Payne plays Lucas' mother Alice, given to nervous laughter and spontaneous rhymes. Late in Act I, Payne's Alice unleashes a powerful voice in her frustrated wife's lament, "Waiting."

Mark Cawood strikes the right note as Alice's stuffy husband (and secret rock fan) Mal.

The ghostly chorus of 10 shakes the Market Theatre rafters with vocal heft.

Sarah Greene's dark-hued and spooky costumes are marvelous.

Julie Florin is responsible for the tight music direction.

Makeup (Kat Bates) and set design (Noah Taylor) also are excellent.

One caveat: On opening night, some of the song lyrics were not as crisply articulated as they might be. Ongoing performances should iron things out.

Theater-goers should note: The show contains a few instances of strong language and sexual innuendo. 

This zany "Addams Family" continues through Oct. 28. For tickets, call 864-729-2999 or visit the website www.themarketanderson.org.

Paul Hyde, a veteran Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Anderson Observer. Write to him at paulhydeus@yahoo.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

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