Arts | Outings + Activities

Theater Review: 'The Addams Family' at the 5th Avenue Theatre

addams-family-01-cropped1The Addams Family, a musical based on the much-loved cartoons of Charles Addams, is an original story first seen on Broadway in 2010. The musical took off on its North American tour in 2011and has landed at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre just in time for Halloween. The production is lively and well-crafted and definitely worth the price of admission and a trip downtown.

In this story, the ghoulishly amorous Gomez finds himself torn between the desires of the two women in his life — the love of his life, wife Morticia, and his firstborn, daughter Wednesday. Wednesday has fallen in love with what the family fears is a "normal" boy and entrusts her father with the secret of their engagement. The action revolves around the meeting of the parents  — a dinner at which love is questioned, family ties threatened and hilarity ensues — you know, like any family gathering.

Most audience members are familiar with the members of the Addams Family and may have a pre-conceived notion of what to expect. Overall this cast stands up to the challenge and delivers familiar characters without losing authenticity. Tony Award Nominee Douglas Sills plays the father, Gomez, with a Spanish flair reminiscent of Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. Sills has the comedic timing and depth of character befitting a leading man. Sara Gettelfinger as Morticia has her moments — her solo, "Just Around the Corner," was one of my favorites — but appears awkward in her costume and I kept trying to figure out what accent she was going for.

Curtic Holobrook as Lucas Beineke, the young suitor and Cortney Wolfson as the now almost-grown Wednesday (Gomez quips "She'll be Thursday before you know it") have a delightful chemistry as young lovers entwined in a macabre-yet-hopeful romance. Both actors performed in the Broadway version and they deliver polished performances. The exchanges between Gomez and Lucas are particularly endearing as the "normal" young man reveals his darker side.

Tony Award nominee Martin Vidnovic and Gaelen Gilliland play Mal and Alice Beineke as quintessential middle-class midwestern folk. Gilliland's commanding voice is a standout and her performance shines, especially after she accidentally takes a swig of one of Grandma's potions. Blake Hammond also threatens to steal the spotlight as Uncle Fester.

So how kid-friendly is it? Sexual innuendo and a reference to Grandma smoking weed in the attic make the show more suitable for ages 12 and up. Although the mature content could easily slip by unnoticed by younger theater goers, Morticia's plunging neckline and ample bosom escape the attention of no one.

Finally, if you've never been to a show at the 5th Avenue, The Addams Family, especially in the week around Halloween, is the perfect one to see. The theater opened in 1926 as a film and vaudeville venue and the Chinese-inspired decor is over the top with blood-red detailing and intricate carvings covering almost every square inch. As a bonus, the woman who sold me the drink du jour, the "Electric Chair," swears the staff often hear voices and laughter when the place is empty. Spooky awesomeness.

If you go ...

When: The production runs through Nov. 11. Showtimes are Thursdays and Fridays 8 p.m.; Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays 1:30 and 7 p.m.

Tickets: Single tickets start at $35. Visit or call the box office at 206-625-1900 or 1-888-5TH-4TIX.

Tips: Street parking is non-existent, but there is a garage on University (south of the theater) and the evening rate is $8. Feed the family before the show. They have some emergency peanuts, cookies, brownies and candy for sale at the concessions, but that won't get you through the show. Kid-friendly beverages and grown-up libations are only slightly over-priced (it all supports the arts, so go ahead and splurge) can be pre-ordered for a relaxed intermission.

About the author: Emily Metcalfe Smith lives and writes in Edmonds, Washington, and has learned the hard way not to pop a handful of peanuts, without something to wash it down, two minutes before curtain call.

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