The Welk Resort Theatre has a reputation for putting on lighthearted Christmas musicals, including shows such as Plaid Tidings, Winter Wonderettes and the upcoming revue, Welkome Home for the Holidays!.
This year the Escondido theatre company is celebrating Halloween, presenting a hilarious version of the musical comedy The Addams Family, a show that takes inspiration from the Charles Addams comics and the 1964 television series.
The “creepy” and “kooky” family is led by Gomez Addams (Kevin Hafso-Koppman) and his wife Morticia (Erica Marie Weisz), who live a happily twisted existence in a dangerous Central Park home. When their daughter Wednesday (Chelsea Emma Franko) tells her father that she is in love with an ordinary college student, Lucas Beineke (Drew Bradford), Gomez decides to host a “normal” dinner night for Lucas and his parents, Mal (Steve Gunderson) and Alice (Nancy Snow Carr). Despite Gomez’ best attempts, however, the evening turns into a weird and funny adventure.
While fans of the original show will feel that this version captures its humor and spirit, those who are not familiar with the family should explore the strange and witty world that has been adapted for the stage by writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and songwriter Andrew Lippa.
Originally obtaining mixed-to-poor reviews during its 2010 Broadway premiere, the script was revised on tour, and the current version of The Addams Family is now a funny and well-told story.
The original series is known for its family-friendly laughs, while the musical features enough PG-13 profanity and references to adult topics to keep this from being an all-ages tale. At the same time, I do think most younger viewers today can handle the more mature humor, and their guardians should just be aware that this staging features some edgy punchlines.
Director Larry Raben directs every scene with an emphasis on the gothic atmosphere of the Addams house and laces it with impeccable comedic timing. Even the grander musical numbers, such as “When You’re an Addams,” “One Normal Night” and “Just Around the Corner” feature a lot of laughter with Karl Warden’s impressive choreography.
Chuck Ketter’s set (provided by The Candlelight Pavilion) and costumes by The Theatre Company (coordinated by Janet Pitcher) are heavily influenced by the television show, and Jennifer Edwards’ lighting provides an appropriately eerie atmosphere. The cast at the Welk production is strong, and was impressive at the performance I saw, despite some early mic issues on Patrick Duffy’s audio.
Hafso-Koppman and Weisz excellently portray Gomez and Morticia as an unconventional and devoted couple, and both are very entertaining with their wonderful singing and amusing delivery. Franko, Andrew Metzger, Berto Ferndandez, Blake Ryan and Kat Fitzpatrick all bring offbeat appeal to their famous roles.
It’s not just the people that play The Addams Family that impresses with their performance. Bradford, Carr, Gunderson and deceased ancestors portrayed by performers like Emma Nossal, Sean Thomas Kiralla and Tori Hitchcock, all hold their own with the main stars.
Raben’s direction and the talented cast will get theatre lovers into the Halloween spirit. Be prepared to “Move Toward the Darkness.”