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'Addams Family' musical delivers spooks and laughs

Published: Thursday, Nov. 15 2012 11:13 a.m. MST

Cortney Wolfson as Wednesday and Patrick D. Kennedy as Pugsley in "The Addams Family."

Jeremy Daniel

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'The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy' national tour, through Nov. 18, Capitol Theatre, 801-355-2787, running time: 2 hours, 35 minutes (one intermission)

When "The Addams Family — A New Musical Comedy" opened on Broadway, reviews were mixed. The musical was snubbed during award season and many critics cited stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as the only reasons to see it.

Before launching the national tour, the creative team went back to the drawing board to finesse the plot, take out some songs and add others.

What a difference that made. "The Addams Family" is a wonderfully macabre night of entertainment.

The plot, a bit of a new chapter in the Addams Family story, has daughter Wednesday in love with a "normal" boy from a respectable family. A growing daughter and a few secrets puts Morticia and Gomez in unfamiliar territory.

Though much of the music written by Andrew Lippa ("The Wild Party") isn't necessarily memorable, it fits perfectly into the show. The other good thing about the reworked script is the national tour is having a ball with the material.

Led by Broadway veterans Douglas Sills ("The Scarlet Pimpernel") and Sara Gettelfinger ("Seussical" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"), the cast nails each one-liner, each tip-of-the-hat to the comic strip and milks every current reference — much to the audience's delight.

Sills is fantastic as Gomez. His comedic delivery, chemistry with Gettelfinger as Morticia and connection to the audience make him instantly likable.

All six voluptuous feet of Morticia lend themselves to her stage presence, wit and commanding place in the Addams household. Be warned: her costume is quite revealing — "Cut down to Venezuela," as Gomez says.

Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday), Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley), Tom Corbeil (Lurch) and Pippa Pearthree (Grandma) round out the Addams family and all turn in solid performances, as do the actors playing members of the Beinecke family.

Blake Hammond delivers a wonderfully charming Uncle Fester, who is also a bit of a narrator at times.

As a novice to the Addams clan, having not watched many episodes of the television series nor read the comic on which the musical is based, I was unsure of how much I'd like the musical. Like most of the audience, I was delighted at the witty, clever script, the visual gags and across-the-board quality of the production.

The production team also made great use of Cousin Itt and Thing, garnering much applause.

All in all, it's not an earth-shattering piece of theater, but it doesn't need to be. In fact, on the heels of a tumultuous few weeks, it is just what the doctor ordered.

Sensitivity rating: Mild profanity and innuendo

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