Monday, September 26, 2011

Broadway's 'Addams Family': A Mystifying Mess

Familiar concept, check! Star power, check! Clever set design, check! Plot, catchy songs, theme... aw, who cares... I've seen some stinker Broadway shows in my day, but nothing prepared me for the random mess of The Addams Family, promoted as "uproarious." I'd say outrage is more like it.

No need to belabor the point, since the show is closing at year-end 2011 after a one-year run, but did the book writers really believe audiences wouldn't see through a plot as wispy as a spider web, and a score so unmemorable that every musical number is more like spending time with the Manson family rather than the Addams?

Perhaps original leads Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth were so dazzling in the production's launch that The Addams Family was able to run on automatic pilot for a year... Brooke Shields—now handling the Morticia lead—is apt stunt casting: She certainly looks the part and who knew she possesses such a robust alto singing voice? British Tony winner Roger Rees as Gomez is relatively unknown in the States, and didn't add much to the role... Simply, Shields is not enough to save two-and-a-half hours of scary nothingness.

Truly, the biggest waste of time is a random collection of bizarre sub-plots that quickly unravel the entire production. The show turns out to have no particular point, no lesson learned. My date Suzanne and I were looking at one another with a big "WTF?" halfway through the first act, dreading the fact that we had another hour to endure. Addams Family was scary, all right. Boo, indeed.