Tag: Rick Elice
The Addams Family
Book by Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice
“Revisions” for ‘Addams Family’ before Broadway run
The producers of Addams Family, set for a spring Broadway opening, have hired the Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks as a consultant for the $16.5 million production, attempting to revive the musical from its less-than-glowing reviews.
perhaps we were taking a little too much for granted assuming that the audience walks in with the relationship with the Addams family fully intact, and we didn’t appropriately reconnect the audience to the family members,” said producer Stuart Oken.
No one on the creative team has left the show or been fired, Mr. Oken said, with Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch still listed as the directors and production designers, and Mr. Zaks billed as creative consultant.
Mr. Zaks is close to Mr. Lane, having directed him in the long-running Broadway musical revivals of Guys and Dolls in 1992 and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1996, for which Mr. Lane won the Tony Award for best actor in a musical.
The musical’s lead producers, Stuart Oken and Roy Furman have admitted that the plot needed to focus more tightly on the Addams family members and that all roles, starting with Gomez (Nathan Lane) and Morticia (Bebe Neuwirth), needed their eccentric and subversive personalities clearly established in dialogue and song before the main action of the plot begins.
Sizzling Cast – Lukewarm Story
The Addams Family
Reviewed by Catey Sullivan
Fair to snappy score, piffling to predictable story and characters of cartoon depth. That about sums up the much-anticipated new musical based on the mordantly brilliant cartoons of Charles Addams. And oh yes, multi-million dollar whiz bang production values and a cast comprised of some of the biggest stars known to the biz of show. Minus Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth – talents as brilliant in their fields as Addams was in his – would The Addams Family musical be worthy of its pre-Broadway hype? We’d argue ‘no,’ but that argument’s probably beside the point.
With Lane and Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams, the score and the book could be a creation of cringing mediocrity and nobody’d much notice. Lane can – and here, does – wrest belly laughs from jokes that would fall flatter than a week-old, lead-lined pancake if delivered by lesser lights. Neuwirth is his match as the slinky, femme-fatale mistress of the ooky-spooky mansion. With legs and hair that go from here ‘til eternity and a whiskey-and-velvet alto voice that screams “come hither” even when it says something completely different, she simply kills it as Morticia.
As for the story that contains these luminaries, think “You Can’t Take It With You” with ghosts and monsters. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s book focuses on Wednesday Addams (Krysta Rodriguez, instilling Wednesday with a definite S & M flair) and her romance with the comparatively normal Lucas Beineke (Wesley Taylor, the clean-cut ‘M’ to Rodriguez’ domineering ‘S’). As in Kaufman and Hart’s depression-era classic, the romance is complicated by clashing parents. Lucas’s folks are prim, proper and repressed. The Addamses? Not so much.
Wackiness ensues when the buttoned-up Beinekes are confronted with the questionably alive Lurch (Zachary James, a literally towering presence whose basso profundo steals the show in the finale) upon entering the Addams’ Central Park manse. It ensues further as the Beinekes contend with lovesick sea-monsters, chairs that double as castration devices, saber-rattling ghosts and hosts and the shamelessly demonstrative lustful affection between Morticia and Gomez.
Andrew Lippa’s score is colored throughout by Gomez’ Spanish ancestry. Its flamenco/tango stylings are serviceable, but in all, the music is more flash than depth. Curiously, the best songs don’t go to Lane or Neuwirth. The latter’s big number comes with “Second Banana”, an utterly forgettable lament about aging. Lane gets “Happy/Sad,” a second act crooner that is sweet but generic. It is Mrs. Bieneke (Carolee Carmello, a belter of deceptively mousy demeanor) who gets the Act I showstopper (“Waiting”) and Mr. Bieneke (Terrence Mann, in fine voice) who raises the roof and brings down the house in Act II with “In the Arms,” a hilarious ode to cephalopod love.
As for the big 11 O’Clock penultimate finale, that has more to do with swashbuckling spectacle and an all-hands-on-deck sword fight than with musical virtuosity. (Choreographer Sergio Trujillo draws a page from “Thriller” for much of the rest of the show, as a chorus of the dead engages in lively dances with gravestones. ) If you’re waiting for a star turn (a la The Producers “Betrayed”) that puts Lane’s incandescent leading man capabilities in the white-hot light they deserve, it never arrives. As far as the score is concerned, Lane’s role is oddly underwritten.
Director/designers Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch have crafted a show that looks thrilling and moves at a spirited clip. That’s all well and good – but hardly the stuff of a deserving Broadway blockbuster.
Fans of the 1960s “Addams Family” television series will find all the show’s deliciously macabre eccentricities in place. Cousin Itt makes an appearance. “Thing” is featured prominently. Fester (an infectiously gleeful Kevin Chamberlin) serves as both narrator and odd-man Greek chorus of sorts. Ukulele in hand, he gets some of the evening’s most creative special effects (and amusing choreography) in a free-floating love song to the moon. And as Grandma, Jackie Hoffman makes the mighty most of a small part, delivering the show’s best lines with a pitch-perfect irreverence that stops the show with every punchline.
For boomers who loved the finger-snapping show, The Addams Family is a must. Ditto for those who treasure any chance to see Lane and Neuwirth perform live. For the rest, there’s just not much there.
The creative team for the Broadway production of The Addams Family, to be directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, will include two-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (lighting), Acme Sound Partners (sound), Obie Award-winner Basil Twist (puppetry), Mary-Mitchell Campbell (music direction), Larry Hochman (orchestrations), Greg Meeh (special effects), and Rick Sordelet (fight direction).
Addams Family, the Musical, based on the bizarre family of characters created by legendary cartoonist Charles Addams, is holding its pre-Broadway run here in Chicago from November 13, 2009-January 10, 2010 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts’ Oriental Theater in Chicago. The show has a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, and choreography by Sergio Trujillo
Once the production moves to Broadway, Addams Family – the Musical will play the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, with previews beginning March 4, in anticipation of an April 8 opening.
As previous mentioned in this blog, the production will star Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth (photo on right) as Gomez and Morticia Addams, with Terrence Mann and Carolee Carmello as Mal and Alice Beineke, a couple who come to dinner at the family’s residence. The cast will also feature Kevin Chamberlin (Uncle Fester), Jackie Hoffman (Grandmama), Zachary James (Lurch), Adam Riegler (Pugsley), Krysta Rodriguez (Wednesday), and Wesley Taylor (Lucas Beineke). Additional casting will be announced at later dates.
UPDATE: Read our review – 3 stars!! review
Wow – Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this same list of Broadway stars headline the pre-Broadway Chicago production? And doesn’t Bebe Neuwirth seem like the perfect Morticia Addams?
Excerpts from the Playbill-Online article:
The cast of this developmental workshop includes Nathan Lane as Gomez, Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia, Kevin Chamberlin as Fester, Zachary James as Lurch, Mary Louise Burke as Grandmama, Terrence Mann, Jan Maxwell and more. As is often the case with readings and workshops, this does not necessarily reflect what the final production casting will be.
As previously announced, the musical will make its world premiere Nov. 13, 2009-Jan. 10, 2010, at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre in Chicago, prior to a spring 2010 launch on Broadway.
With a book by Marshall Brickman and partner Rick Elice (librettists of the 2006 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Jersey Boys) and music and lyrics by Drama Desk Award-winning composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party), the musical is wholly original and not based on Addams Family material from other media.
UPDATE: Addams Family opens in Chicago!!!