REVIEW : THE ADDAMS FAMILY – CLIFFS PAVILION SOUTHEND

The kooky and spooky Addams Family raised the dead blowing away the cobwebs and the audience at the Cliffs Pavilion last night. A beautifully staged version of the 2010 broadway musical with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa captures the essence of the 1960s TV show to perfection. Large scale sets, quirky scenery, stunning costumes and an eye for detail for even the smallest of props, culminates in an impressive immersive theatrical experience of Broadway & West End quality.

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Wednesday Addams has found love in the guise of Lucas Beineke, an all-American boy. What first seems as a clear contrast between ‘strange’ and ‘normal’ becomes increasingly blurred as we learn more about the characters and the skeletons hidden in their cupboards. The characters are in constant conflict with their multi-threaded relationships and the general world around them.

As Gomez and Morticia Addams, (Cameron Blakely and Samantha Womack) are charmingly engaging. With perfectly tuned comedic timing, spot on characterisation and physical subtleties, this odd couple ooze sex appeal which overspills into the first few rows of the audience during the brilliantly choreographed Tango De Amor – a Spanish style flamenco tango remix. The flamboyant and animated Gomez clearly knows who is the boss in this relationship.

35505_fullCarrie Hope-Fletcher as Wednesday Addams has her loyal following of teenage fans in the auditorium tonight to show their appreciation. But Carrie doesn’t need her social media presence to command this performance. She is a West End star in her own right. Her impeccable vocals offer contrasting dynamics. They are gentle yet powerful in tone, her diction concise with every word understood. Carrie’s acting is first rate as Wednesday is torn between dark and light. Her solo performance of Pulled is as perfect as I have ever seen it and the reaction from the opening night crowd was fantastic.

Whilst Wednesday’s love interest played by Oliver Ormson is very good, I can’t help feeling he is a little upstaged by Carrie who overpowers Oliver’s vocals in the catchy duet Crazier Than You. Maybe this is a deliberate move to mirror Morticia’s control over Gomez – like mother like daughter as they say!

The transformation of Charlotte Page as Alice Beineke from the submissive poet to a wife with attitude, aided by mistakenly drinking a potion of Grandma’s (Valda Aviks) is wonderful to watch. A powerful character that is incredibly funny. Grant McIntyre plays Pugsley, the torture and pain obsessed brother of Wednesday, who is scared of losing his sister to her new boyfriend. His antics to stop Wednesday are comical. Being stretched on the rack and begging for more was so funny.

20170530_220313Uncle Fester as the crazy relative who falls in love with the moon is a role made for Les Dennis. Whilst not vocally strong, his imperfections only add strength to his performance of the beautifully staged (credit to lighting design by Ben Cracknell) and tenderly sung The Moon and Me. Throughout the show Uncle Fester supplies the narration and whitty one liners to keep the story flowing.

It has to be said that the ensemble of ancestor spirits are a welcome addition to the storyline and help to give a nostalgic Rentaghost feeling and fullness to the overall set. Standout performances include Jessica Buckby as the Ballerina Ancestor, whose poise and finesse is a delight to watch, and Kathryn Barnes as Madam Ancestor who excels in her expression and body movement. You simply cannot help being drawn to both of these actresses for the larger ensemble pieces.

There are so many wonderful things to say about this production I could go on forever – Black is such a lovely colour

Running until Saturday 3rd June – tickets available here..

https://southendtheatres.org.uk/Online/tickets-the-addams-family-southend-2017

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