AMANA — “The Addams Family” is oodles of ooky fun at the Old Creamery Theatre. Nothing too grave, but plenty to dig in this morbid musical, onstage through Nov. 4.
The creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky characters we met on the funny pages, mid-60s black-and-white TV and 1990s films are leaping into mostly-living color, garnering finger-snaps, cheers and a standing ovation during Thursday’s opening matinee.
Thing welcomes the audience at the top of the show, opening the gates to various settings, from a graveyard and a bench in Central Park, to the family’s 10,000 square-foot mansion where blood-red walls provide a ghastly backdrop for a grisly rogues gallery.
Walls turn around and a secret panel opens the door to a subterranean 50 Shades of Grey’s Anatomy redrum, where siblings Wednesday and Pugsley torture each other with gruesome glee and jolts of electricity. But are their daily dolors about to end?
Wednesday, everyone’s favorite child of woe, is bringing home a beau to meet the fam. The catch is that her catch is “normal.” She pleads with her family to just be normal for one night of small talk, drinks and dinner. That’s all she’s asking — but is that too much to ask when your father is a Zorro wannabe, your mother is morbid, your brother is a bother, your butler lurches, your uncle festers and your grandma licks rats?
Ironically, Lucas also begs his small-town Ohio parents to just be “normal” for one night. His father’s uptight and his mother speaks in rhymes.
Add in some Addams ancestors awakened from their crypts for a night of family fun that stretches into another night of making sure love lives on, and you end up with a recipe as frothy as Grandma’s potions. And perhaps just as dangerous.
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Every magical, musical step is delightful as this motley crew maneuvers through The Dinner Party from Hell.
Wednesday shoots the entree with her crossbow and arrow, and mama Morticia (Jackie McCall) insists on an after-dinner game that’s just as gamy, spilling secrets all over her devious dessert. The biggest secret of all is that Wednesday (Anna Beth Riggs) and Lucas (Zachary Fretag) aren’t merely teenagers in love — they’re engaged. And only Gomez (Sean McCall) is in on the secret.
One by one, the dominoes tumble into a macabre melange with a cherry on top. Marriages teeter on the brink of disaster, an unconfirmed bachelor declares his moony-eyed love and young Pugsley (Charles Buresh, alternating performances with Cooper Bott) is inconsolable over the notion of never again being tortured by his sister.
Composer Andrew Lippa’s Tony-nominated score is as quirky and delightful as the characters who tango, line-dance and flamenco their way through songs expertly directed by Janelle Lauer and dances expertly choreographed by Katie Colletta and Keegan Christopher.
The married McCalls are enchanting as Gomez and Morticia; Buresh is adorable as Pugsley; Riggs and Fretag are equal parts normal and nerdy as the lovebirds; and Kristen Behrendt DeGrazia and Dion Stover are captivatingly conservative as Lucas’ parents, with a passion simmering beneath the surface.
However, James Tarrant as Uncle Fester and Jim Vogt as Lurch nearly steal the show with their verve, or in Lurch’s case, a lack thereof. Marquetta Senters doesn’t get enough stage time as Grandma, but makes the most of the spotlight whenever it swings her way.
The setting is artfully complex, the lighting is ghoulish when it needs to be, and Bethany Horning’s costumes wrap every character in satirical sartorial splendor.
Get ready to snap your fingers and snap up some tickets to this heavenly haunted holiday happening.
If you go
• What: “The Addams Family”
• Where: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana
• When: To Nov. 4; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday
• Tickets: $31.50 adults, $19.50 students; Addams Family Fun Pack: buy one adult ticket, get one student ticket for $12 (ages 6 to 18); Old Creamery Box Office, (319) 622-6034 or Oldcreamery.com/shows-and-tickets/2018-season/addams-family/
• Rated: PG
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• Extras: Monster Bash in the courtyard after Saturday shows, with music, refreshments for sale, costumes welcome; Audience Costume Contests on Oct. 27 and 28, with winners chosen at intermission
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