The Addams Family Musical by J.A. Di Bello

by J. A. Di Bello
What are the ingredients of good theatre?  This question no doubt has confused and enlightened theatre folk since Oedipus contemplated Jocasta or Juliet her Romeo. Take what might otherwise be a familiar or normal situation, e.g., boy meets girl, girl loves boy.

Alter the characters, then the circumstances and for good measure, throw into the mix two brilliant collaborators, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.  They are the writers of The Addams Family Musical, a twisted and warped love story.  To that already perilous brew add Andrew Lippa and his clever music and almost memorable lyrics. The necessary ingredients are now in place for good theatre. And a note for the curious Brickman and Elice working together also gained fame with a recent Broadway show Jersey Boys, for which they won an Olivier and 4 Tony Awards!
 
But believe for sure, Franklin Trapp, Producer and his trusted Associate Producer Caitlin Kellermeyer know up close and personal the importance of execution. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating!"  And so is the creation of good theatre at Forestburgh.
 
As soon as the audience enters the historic theatre, the evidence of macabre alterations is everywhere.  The curtain is closed, but the stage and proscenium, thank you Scenic Designer Jenna Snyder, is decorated and cluttered with shields, breast plates and assorted instruments of chilling terror.  Sounds like fun before anyone is even able to think about curtain.
 
The house goes dark and from the depths of a crypt-like pit, the single pale-white arm of Conductor Andy Hudson emerges. With fingers rigid and pressed against an attentive thumb he snaps to the rhythm of the show’s so familiar Addams Family theme. The audience follows the suggestive lead, and an evening of ghastly and ghoulish fun begins in earnest. 
 
Dan Fenaughty is Gomez Addams, the father and leader of this inside-out group of corrupt perverts.  He is simply dazzling and brilliant. Even with his Latino savoir faire he remains a harsh challenge for his trusted wife Morticia.  Rebecca Simon is intense and astounding as his wife and totally off-the-wall bazar partner, especially in the exquisitely performed “Tango de Amor” near the end of the second act. Fenaughty and Simon are two fine and established actors.
 
Gomez and Morticia are the proud parents of two seriously disturbed children Pugsley and Wednesday, whose quest for a plateau each can call normal is in vain.  Interestingly, the role Pugsley is played by two different actors, Benjamin Thurtle and Andrew Miller.  It is Wednesday, the young girl in love who draws critical acclaim in this fine production.  Molly Franco depicts Wednesday for this full house, opening night performance in the forest.  As a recent graduate of Rider University, her ability to hold the stage and bring to life the character of Wednesday is but one of the many individual achievements that make this show a winner. To the list of notable performers, add Michael Cefalo, as Lucas, the charming yet bewildered intended of Wednesday.
 
In addition to the fine choreography of Abby Sierakowski, are the numerous contemporary innuendos and barbs (social and political) slipped into the script which on the chuckle-laugh scale are at the top. Without harming the progression of the plot, a reprimand is delivered by the ol’ Grandma, admonishing the child for not understanding the context and meaning of literary allusions. “Stop texting and pick up a book!” She vigorously exclaims.
 
Grandma in this production is a relatively small part, but the performance of MacKenzie Wright causes Grandma to be large and memorable.  She’s one of those characters people discuss on the trip home.  MacKenzie is quick with the ability to bring the humor of the character and this production’s total craziness to the front of the house. 
 
Although each character, producer, production assistant in this Forestburgh event deserves an individualized round of applause. Two additional character stand outs, as was the case with Grandma, remain as reminders of the evening’s enjoyment.  Lurch brought to the stage by Josh Houghton is hauntingly brilliant.  And then there’s Brian Hoffman’s interpretation and delivery of uncle Fester.  He’s in love with the moon and his inclinations and desires are sweetly made apparent in his sincere delivery of “The Moon and Me.”
 
It’s a dream that’s coming true
 
When the moon says “I love you.”
 
Thematically, Fester is the Addams Family Musical!
 
Addams Family Musical will continue its hysterical, hilarious run at the Miracle in the Forest through July 17.  Tickets and reservation can be secured by calling the box office at 845-794-1194 or opening the theatre’s web site:  FBPlayhouse.org

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