The mysterious, kooky and altogether ooky Addams family has moved on to the Santa Rosa Junior College campus. Or have they? The Addams Family, a musically-updated take on the beloved Charles Addams characters, runs on the Burbank Auditorium’s Main Stage through May 7.
As always with the Addamses, family is at the core of the predictable plot. Wednesday (Austin Aquino-Harrison) is in love. There’s only one hurdle in her plan to marry Lucas Beinecke (Aidan Cumming) and live unhappily ever after—her mother. With the help of her devoted father, Gomez (a phenomenal Michael Coury Murdock), Wednesday concocts a plan to have a “normal” family dinner with her soon-to-be in-laws before telling her mother, Morticia (Gwenevieve Nelson), about the upcoming nuptials.
Will Gomez lie to his wife? Will the metaphorical (and literal) family ghosts be allowed back into their crypts, or will everything turn out alright after some dueling, tangoing and the appearance of a rocket ship?
Director Laura Downing-Lee is known for strong, exacting stage leadership. That strength and a focus on cohesion have produced a gorgeous visual and auditory feast. Costume designer Maryanne Scozzari and set designer Peter Crompton always deliver when the show demands extravagance. Robin de Lucca’s lighting design manages to be both crisp and moody. Musical director Nate Riebli and the live orchestra are phenomenal. Choreographer Alyce Finwall guides the cast through clean and dynamic on-stage movement.
This show looks professional because all of the above-mentioned artists are professionals. So where are the students in this college production? They’re there, in the background, in a very large ensemble that does its job efficiently.
The main cast features several standout performances (in addition to Murdock’s) from Noah Bartolome’s Lurch to Kathy Ping-Rogers’s joyfully balmy grandmama and from Tina Traboulsi’s inhibited Alice Beinecke to Genevieve Smith’s adorable Cousin Itt. Some of the other performances are flat, but it’s quite a challenge to pull off iconic characters in new and interesting ways.
The script doesn’t help. Social media trends and sledgehammer innuendo result in a play that tries too hard to be relevant and often falls into (to quote the Zennial beside me) “cringe.” Of course, the main complaint of both the Zennials attending with this reviewer was “Where are Wednesday’s braids?!”
If one goes for a spooky visit with La Familia Addams, try to solve the mystery of the missing braids. The Zennials (and those of us escorting them) will be thankful.
‘The Addams Family’ runs Thurs–Sun through May 7 in Santa Rosa Junior College’s Burbank Auditorium Main Theatre, 1501 Mendocino Ave. Thurs–Sat, 7:30pm; Sat & Sun, 2pm. $5–$25. 707.527.4307. theatrearts.santarosa.edu.