A Creepy and Kooky Addams Family Play

By: Haley Goode, 2L

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When the opportunity came to review Washington and Lee’s Fall 2017 Bentley Musical, The Addams Family, this thespian was all over it. I attended a performing arts high school for musical theatre, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, and performed in countless community theatre productions. With that amount of training, I have seen a great deal of professional theatre.

It is well known that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I, however, tend to disagree. I think high expectations are more capable of stealing glee. In retrospect, I had high expectations as I entered the Johnson Theatre at Lenfest Hall. I truly wish I hadn’t.

I spent the First Act of the show distracted by the lackluster costume design, the missed opportunities for truly outrageous hair and makeup effects, and the overly simplified choreography.

I was put off by every flat note and technical mistake made, and there were many. I also had a hard time understanding why anyone would put a show in the thrust that was so obviously meant to be presented in a proscenium configuration.

However, after speaking with the director, Rob Mish, during intermission, I gained new insight into the musical. For instance, W&L originally intended to produce Little Shop of Horrors, another classic Halloween time musical, but switched to The Addams Family at the request of the cast members.

To my surprise, Mish explained that my favorite actress in the show, Hailey Glick (Pugsley Addams) never performed on stage before. Only three cast members are pursuing a theatre major or minor at W&L. The other cast members study computer science, biology, poverty studies, religion, neuroscience, strategic communications, politics, history, and psychology.

With a new perspective, I enjoyed the second act immensely more than the first. Rather than expecting seasoned professionalism and veteran musicality, I simply enjoyed watching a group of fledgling thespians create art. Worth noting are Jordan Goldstein’s (Uncle Fester) gorgeous rendition of “The Moon and Me,” which featured her own skills on the banjolele, Andrew Creel’s (Gomez Addams) raw emotion and truthfulness in “Happy Sad,” and Hannah Dewing’s (Morticia Addams) overall confidence and zest in “Tango De Amor.”

While W&L’s The Addams Family will not soon be headed to Broadway, Rob Mish created a thoroughly enjoyable, family friendly piece of theatre of which the local community and the students at W&L should take advantage. The show is creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky, as it should be.