Broadway in Indianapolis: The Addams Family 

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click to enlarge ADDAMS_2007_20_Photo_20by_20Carol_20Rosegg_.jpg

The Addams Family is a musical with a lot of heart. It doesn't pretend to wise or witty; what comes across instead is a smart show with humor that's true to the characters and thus becomes uplifting. It's a multi-layered love story and a story of love; loving and being loved; settling and entitlement.

The cast is totally invested. They are us and we are them, resonating with their confessions. What mother, like Morticia, hasn't thought, if not spoken, "But I'm too young to have a married daughter." And after a bit of mother-daughter flare-up, what father, like Gomez, hasn't prompted his daughter, "Tell your mother the two words every mother longs to hear." "I'm sorry," offers the contrite Wednesday.

Yes, "The Addams Family" is quite off-the-wall - but what family isn't? What they have is what we want - spunky fun, honest caring, transparency.

The book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice is akin to what's best in vaudeville - nothing is predictable; twists and turns turn and twist. Andrew Lippa's music and lyrics are several cuts above the stuff we've gotten to expect. A Latin beat running through the score makes for a cohesive feel. Sergio Trujillo's sharp choreography grows from the action and connects the characters with their relationships to each other. Jerry Zaks directs with a deft understanding of what we suppress and what we disclose.

Shaun Rice is a lovable Uncle Fester, whose service as the narrator/chorus lends a Greek structure to the comedy - some serious stuff is allowed to surface when you're laughing at human foibles.

The entire cast is splendid. Jennifer Fogarty is a feisty Wednesday; Bryan Welnicki gives Lucas the right sheen of a smitten lover. Jesse Sharp enchants as Gomez; Keleen Snowgren bejewels the macabre with sparkle; Amanda Bruton becomes a downright loveable Grandma; Conner Barth rounds the 'ugh' Pugsley with a softness to make us comprehend exactly what bonds siblings. Ryan Jacob Wood's Lurch is poignantly funny. Blair Anderson is a jaw-dropping Alice; Mark Poppleton proves he can be a 'malleable' Mal. The Ancestors collectively and individually add dimension to the story as it unfolds - can there be a happy ending?

The set design, special effects and lighting delight with surprises. The six-piece orchestra fills the space.

The Addams Family is just a lot of fun - and yes, I walked out humming a tune and even remembered the lyrics - 'what is there to talk about but love?'

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