“The Addams Family” musical (snap snap)

Michael Anschutz

Topeka Civic Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family” is a campy take on the iconic first family of fright.

The musical follows the misadventures of the Addams family as Wednesday, their grown daughter, gets engaged to Lucas, a normal boy. The difficult social situation of these two entirely opposite families meeting becomes hilariously absurd in the Addams family’s house.

Wednesday’s main struggle was trying to to pass her strange family off as normal, explaining to her dad at one point, “We’re who we are and they’re from Ohio.”

Tensions run particularly high for Gomez, Wednesday’s eccentric father, who finds himself in between his only daughter and Morticia, his loving if intimidating wife, trying to keep the peace while maintaining plenty of machismo.

Every musical relies on the vocal talent from its performers to bring its story to life. The cast of this production certainly delivered in this regard. One might be inclined to say they brought the show back to life.

Notably, the ensemble choir of Addams family ghosts provided strong vocals throughout. Jim Ramos, playing Gomez, did exceptionally well with both his solos and maintained an entertaining yet believable accent to match the proudly Spanish Gomez.

Ashley Young, playing Lucas’ mother Alice, had strong vocals during her solo number in the first act. This was made all the more impressive considering that her performance the night I attended was interrupted by tornado warnings mid-song to be picked up after an all clear was announced.

The first act was full of some great comedy moments. Daniel Lassely, playing Uncle Fester, provided good character acting and humorous narration.

Chelle Decker stood out as the funniest performance to me with the physicality she brought to her ancient character. As someone who has performed a character that uses a cane, I appreciate it is not easy to be hunched over for a whole show.

The makeup and costumes of the cast also were high quality. Daniel Lassley and Daniel Gilchrist were fantastically visually transformed into the ghoulish looking characters of Uncle fester and Lurch respectively.

Even with the unnamed ghost choir characters, this production cut no corners in terms of how uniquely costumes each of the actors were.

Similarly, their were an impressive number of elaborate set pieces, especially for a local theatre, and plenty of special effects that complimented the kooky and old Hollywood style spookiness of the original television show and movies about the Addams.

The only disappointment I had was that the second act dragged compared to the first. It is not uncommon for a second act, in trying to tie up many plot lines quickly, to leave out funny moments and to become a bit dense.

There just were not as many good laughs in the second act as the first one for me.