From the moment you see 'Thing', the resident disembodied hand, appear from a hole in the wall accompanied by that familiar 'click, click' sound of its fingers, you're transported into the wacky world of The Addams Family.
Having premiered in Britain at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre in April 2017, Andrew Lippas’ musical comedy – which is based on a book by Jersey Boys creators and Broadway veterans Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice – has seen the Addams Family delight pre-pandemic audiences around the UK. It's now back for a second nationwide tour, which arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre last night.
Thanks to Diego Pitarch’s wonderfully extravagant set with its twin balconies, we're taken directly to the ghoulish and kooky Addams family's creepy mansion where we meet all the familiar characters who try to come to terms with a massive problem. Gomez and Morticia Addams' freaky daughter Wednesday has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke, a sweet 'normal' boy from a supposedly respectable family!
The brilliant Cameron Blakely reprises the role of Gomez and comically manages to tell a string of lies as he tries to hide his goth daughter's romance from his wife Morticia, superbly played by former Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton.
But the strange couple's marriage begins to crumble as Wednesday (Kingsley Morton), their crossbow-wielding daughter, falls deeper in love and is engaged to Lucas (Ahmed Hamad) and that sparks all manner of trust problems for her doting parents.
Kingsley – who has a really great voice – is a tortured soul, especially after Lucas' parents Alice and Mal Beineke (Kara Lane and Sean Kingsley) are invited to visit the Addams' pad for dinner. The love-stricken teenager pleads with her family for One Normal Night while she dresses in a 'normal' colourful dress.
With the host family struggling to appear ‘normal’ for both Wednesday and her boyfriend's sake, the two families try to enjoy dinner. But the Addams' weird young son Pugsley (Grant McIntyre) isn't convinced of his older sister’s new love – after all, who is going to torture him!. Secretly he enlists the help of Grandma Addams (Valda Aviks) who unsuspectingly provides a potion which Pugsley intends to give to his loved-up older sibling.
I absolutely loved Uncle Fester (played by Scott Paige) who really has a narrating role but whose physicality, comic timing and wonderfully powerful voice were an absolute joy, especially in But Love and The Moon and Me.
Meanwhile Lurch (Dickon Gough), the towering family butler, appears to have an almost voiceless part yet his expressionless face, slow deliberate movements and enormous deep grunts are hilarious. And when Lurch descends the mansion's staircase after the Beineke family arrive, his heavy and exceptionally slow footsteps are hilarious – and there's a nice surprise in the finale.
Alistair David's slick choreographed sequences keep the show moving at a frantic pace, with a mix of classical ballet plus traditional Spanish and Latin dances, although I was a little surprised that Joanne Clifton had only one real chance to show off her dance prowess in Tango De Amor with an equally impressive Gomez. But she certainly gave it her all in the comical Just Around The Corner song accompanied by the family ancestors.
While navigating the joys and heartache of parenthood, Joanne Clifton is both sultry and solemn in equal measure as Morticia and the action between her and her devoted husband Gomez is absolutely brilliant.
Cameron Blakely's comic timing and his powerful voice portrays Gomez as a dedicated father and husband which makes him the perfect man for this particular musical and his Happy Sad and Not Today numbers were perfectly delivered.
There are a few innuendoes which pass over the heads of most younger members of the audience but overall The Addams Family is a show which can be enjoyed by everyone. The storyline illustrates that it's absolutely fine to be different and the final Move Toward The Darkness number featuring the whole company followed by a reprise of When You're An Addams received a deserved standing ovation.
The whole cast deserved their applause, while in the pit – or should that be the crypt! – the eight-piece band, led by keyboard-playing musical director Bob Broad, seemed a little too loud in the opening act which sometimes made it difficult to hear all the lyrics. But it was much better after the interval.
The Addams Family is a fabulous production suitable for all the family.
* The show runs until Saturday January and it plays Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday with tickets from the Box Office on 0844 871 7652 or online at www.atgtickets.com/MiltonKeynes (booking fees apply).