"THE ADDAMS FAMILY," through Oct. 4, SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 S. State, Orem (801-225-2787 or scera.org); running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)
OREM — Shawn Mortensen just knew "The Addams Family" would be a good fit for the SCERA Center for the Arts after he saw the show in Salt Lake when the spooky musical came to town on a national tour.
"I thought it was such a great show. I said, 'We can totally do this show here.' The message is fun. I loved it," Mortensen said.
So when Mortensen was asked to direct the show, he jumped at the chance.
"I love productions that just kind of fall into the huge production numbers," Mortensen said. He said the tasks for the director and choreographer are massive, but it's a fun challenge.
He likes the cast for the show, and the set designer went to great effort to re-create the sets to be similiar to many from the TV show but in color rather than black and white.
So, there's a polar bear on the living room wall and a shark head with part of a leg in its mouth.
The moving sets also include a torture chamber where Pugsley and Wednesday play.
The first clue that the production is going to be clever are the multiple "Things" beckoning from under the curtain and up the middle of the curtain. (A "Thing" has no arms or body attached to the hand — it just runs around the house and pops out of boxes at random.)
The second is the huge Lurch (David Henry), who appears out of the fog, grim-faced and very, very tall.
From there on, it's a lively show that mimics the popular TV show of the ’60s with ghosts, ghoulish magic and a twisted outlook on life and death.
In this story, the Addamses’ ancestors — mostly long dead — rise from their graves to visit and end up locked out of the cemetery until love triumphs. The ancestors, from a mincing Shakespeare to a cocky conquistador, very quickly become like beloved pets. They're not very well trained, but they add to the house's charm.
Morticia, played by Shelly Stewart Truax, is the elegant, beautiful matriarch of the household and moves gracefully through this story, expecting complete devotion and honesty from her husband, Gomez.
Gomez, played by Jack Stokes, is a step above his TV character. He's less cartoonish and more human as he tries to please both his wife and his daughter, Wednesday.
Wednesday, played with force by Morgan Flandro, is in love and wants her family to accept her new beau and behave in a way that doesn't scare him off.
Flandro has bold, fierce facial expressions and shifts without warning from loving and kind to full of rage with a passion for inflicting pain.
Wednesday's boyfriend, Lucas Beineke (Brandon Haden), is plucky. He sincerely loves Wednesday and tries to keep up with her moods. At one point, he even puts an apple on his head that she can try to shoot with her crossbow.
Every character in this crazy, odd family is fun to watch, from Grandma (Brandi Washburn) with her cart of potions to Fester (Patrick Brannelly), who is in love with the moon.
However, Delayne Bluth Dayton as Alice Beineke is a standout. She creates a character very similar to the goofy friend on the old Mary Tyler Moore show. She's naive, emboldened when she gets angry or overly sad, and hilarious most of the time. She arrives at the Addams mansion dressed in yellow just after Morticia has reminded Wednesday that Addamses never wear bright colors.
Alice is frustrated with her marriage and interested to find that Morticia and Gomez think they have no secrets from each other.
She does a hilarious tabletop dance before the story wraps up.
Pugsley, the younger madcap brother (Mitch Bandley), really doesn't want to lose his sister, so he tries to trick her and, without meaning to, sets off a series of events that lead to a surprising conclusion.
Somehow all of this bizarreness seems to make some sort of crazy sense, and it matters whether Morticia forgives Gomez and whether Wednesday and Lucas get together.
The song "Not Today!" becomes a wrenching lament as Gomez realizes he's made what may be a serious marital mistake.Comment on this story
Morticia comforts herself with "Just Around the Corner," a song about death, when she's dejected.
Pugsley can't sleep because there's no monster in the closet — until the stuffed alligator pulls the bed offstage.
By the time Lurch actually attempts a very awkward smile, it feels good to see the abnormal Addams Family back to "normal."
Sensitivity rating: This show is probably better suited for children age 8 and older because of exposions, fog and zombie-like characters.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.