Review – The Addams Family **** Orchard Theatre, Dartford and on tour

The Addams Family has one of the strongest opening numbers, briefly referencing the iconic ‘click, click’ of the theme from the TV series before surging on into a history of the family with the lively When You’re An Addams.

All the numbers in this show work brilliantly to deliver character and plot development. They have witty lyrics and great tunes, supported here by a strong eight-piece band which, for a touring show, is a really good size. Andrew Lippa (who also wrote Big Fish) does the job of writing both music and lyrics for the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, whose other big hit is Jersey Boys.

Surprisingly the show has never had a West End run, but this production has such polish and style that it would fit right in there. Diego Pitarch has designed a set so meticulously detailed that everywhere is working to create the spooky Addams atmosphere. This isn’t one of those shows where a stage hand wheels on a sofa and an occasional table and asks you to believe it’s a palatial drawing room.

The story centres on Morticia and Gomez Addams’ daughter Wednesday and her love for a ‘normal’ boy, Lucas. The action is based on the clash between Lucas’s family from Ohio as they encounter the weird world inside the Addams mansion. In truth the plot of true love conquering all does struggle to sustain a whole show and at times lacks pace. But it seems this show is trying to do something different in that the focus is very much on the emotional lives of the characters as they each encounter different world views that challenge their own perceptions of themselves and each other.

Cameron Blakely has been in this production since it started and gives a delightfully suave performance as Gomez with assured comic timing. Joanne Clifton’s Morticia dances a mean tango as you would expect and delivers the songs beautifully. I would, though, have liked her ‘Morticia walk’ to have been more of a glide as if she were on wheels – which would make more of Gomez’s reaction when he discovers ‘she has legs!’.

Kingsley Morton as daughter Wednesday Addams gets two of my favourite numbers – Pulled and Crazier Than You and has a powerhouse voice to deliver them. Meanwhile Scott Paige (like Cameron Blakely an alumni from the musical Eugenius, which I take any excuse to mention!) is outstanding as Uncle Fester, getting his first laugh from a very unusual head wobble before he even has a line to deliver. Paige has great comic instincts combined with vocal strength and a winning stage persona which made him an audience favourite.

Director Matthew White and choreographer Alistair David provide so much to enjoy in this meticulously detailed show. There are moves and looks and nuances everywhere which bring out the comedy whilst being true to the characters and atmosphere of the piece.

The Addams Family is at the Orchard Theatre Dartford until Saturday 26 February 2022 and then continues on tour.


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