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Manchester theatre reviews

The Addams Family

The Addams Family at Lowry Theatre

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall August 2017

 

Aria Entertainment in association with Music And Lyrics have brought the creepy and kooky clan, complete with singing and dancing dead ancestors, to Salford's Lowry Theatre. This is fast, fun, slick, and highly entertaining, and even before the first note was sung, the augurs were good as an impressive and versatile set by Diego Pitarch greeted us, cleverly lit throughout with a subtle but clever lighting design including one of the best dry ice sequences I have seen (Ben Cracknell).

 

The Addams Family have been around and in our cultural consciousness for many years, in the form of newspaper or television cartoons, and then a TV series and finally on film. Their creator Charles Addams first showed the world his characters way back in 1938. Few of us therefore could be unfamiliar with who and what these ooky people who delight in the macabre were. It is therefore full credit to the Casting Director, James Orange, for finding a cast who were simply perfect.

 

In this particular outing of the family, Wednesday has fallen in love, and she invites her soon-to-be fiance and his parents over for dinner. Of course there are comedic consequences in this, but, as we all know, Musicals and cartoons usually have happy endings, and this is no exception. Director Matthew White has found the perfect combination of humour, mock-scary, and down-right silly, and balanced this well with what actually are quite remarkably and sarcasticly clever lyrics (with some up the minute ad libs too) to bring out the best (or should that be the worst) from these characters.

 

I was a little afraid beforehand that I might have been watching caricatures, but that simply was not the case at all. These were fully-rounded characters with whom one could empathise. The show was also one of the slickest I have seen in a good while, and I could not hear the set being moved as I oftentimes can. Full credit to the stage management team for this.

 

As I have already intimated the acting was superb. Cameron Blakely was spellbindingly good. His energy, his attack, his physicality, his voice, his expressions, even down to something as simple as raising an eyebrow, were calculated and perfect. I adored his characterisation and found him immensely watchable and entertaining. Playing alongside him was Samantha Womack as Morticia. Her smoky and sexy deep voice sent shivers down my spine, and her characterisation was spot on! Carrie Hope Fletcher was the embodiment of Wednesday Addams. A lovely actress and very easy to watch, with a stunning singing voice too. Her rendition of 'Pulled' was incredible. No less a talent came in the form of (dare I say veteran entertainer) Les Dennis as Uncle Fester. A wonderfully light and fun interpretation and worked excellently against Valda Aviks' Grandma, Grant McKintyre's Pugsley, and Dickon Gough's plodding and monosyllabic Lurch - who proves to have a delightfully sonorous baritone voice at the end!

 

In a comedic twist, the three 'normal' people in the show actually turn out to be possibly less normal than the Addams', and playing these for all they're worth were Dale Rapley (Mal), Charlotte Page (Alice), and Oliver Ormson as Wednesday's intended, Lucas. With a chorus of all singing and dancing dead family ancestors, and some excellent choreography by Alistair David, and solid musical direction with a note-perfect band by Andrew Hilton, this is a polished and utterly professional production from top to toe and a highly entertaining family Musical.

 
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