'Addams Family' returns for a run in Broward

 

The touring production at the Broward Center fails to invigorate a not-so-hot musical.

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By Christine Dolen | cdolen@MiamiHerald.com

The creepy, kooky Addams family is back in South Florida, this time at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

The Addams Family, a musical built around that mordantly funny clan dreamed up by late New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, wasn’t exactly a scream when its Equity tour played Miami’s Arsht Center in late 2011. The amiable non-union Fort Lauderdale cast has talent and works hard, but unlike several of the Broadway-tested actors on that previous tour, they don’t deliver the dazzle that enriches a performance and helps gloss over a show’s flaws. And The Addams Family has plenty of the latter.

The show, with a score by Andrew Lippa and a book by the Jersey Boys team of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, lasted for 34 previews and 725 performances on Broadway, not a bad record by any means. The reasons for that commercial success probably stem from the pop-culture familiar title (thanks to the 1964-66 television series, plus the 1991 and 1993 Addams Family movies) and the performances of Broadway favorites Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams.

The musical’s creative team kept going back to the drawing board, trying to strengthen the show, but all that plastic surgery can’t disguise its serviceable music and a script that isn’t more than intermittently funny or touching.

The plot centers around a grown-up Wednesday Addams (Jennifer Fogarty, made up to strongly resemble Christina Ricci, who played the younger Wednesday in the Addams movies). Wednesday has fallen for a straight, non-ghoulish guy, Lucas Beineke (Bryan Welnicki), and she’s determined to get hitched. She confides in daddy Gomez (Jesse Sharp) but asks him to keep her plans secret from Morticia (KeLeen Snowgren), so Mom doesn’t ruin everything. For Morticia, who values honesty above all else, learning of Gomez’s deception is a marital deal breaker, so the ghostly pale hottie prepares to run off to a place she’s always wanted to see: the sewers of Paris.

That’s but a sample of the “hilarity” in The Addams Family. We also get to watch Lucas’ square parents, Alice (Blair Anderson) and Mal (Mark Poppleton), have their own marital meltdown; Wednesday torturing her delighted “little” bro Puggsley (Jeremy Todd Shinder, alternating shows with Sam Primack); bald Uncle Fester (Shaun Rice) courting his lady-love, the moon (yes, the one in the night sky); crazy Grandma (Amanda Bruton) looking for a couple of hot-to-trot seniors in the audience; and the inarticulate butler Lurch (Dan Olson) unleashing an opera-quality voice.

With the exception of Snowgren’s appealing Morticia, Natasha Katz’s lighting, and the basics of Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott’s original set and costume design, this latest iteration of a not-so-hot show — with its modified sets, re-created direction and re-created choreography — is nowhere near the snappy treat its creators struggled to deliver.

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