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Victoria Garcia as Wednesday, Sam Johnson as Lurch, Doug Bruening as Fester, Victoria Covarrubias as Grandma, Alexander Mullins as Pugsley. Seated: Anne Schneider as Morticia & Gregory Good as Gomez.

Victoria Garcia as Wednesday, Sam Johnson as Lurch, Doug Bruening as Fester, Victoria Covarrubias as Grandma, Alexander Mullins as Pugsley. Seated: Anne Schneider as Morticia & Gregory Good as Gomez.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY presented by Sunset Players through Oct. 18. Click here for more information on the production.

The Sunset Players kick off their season with a spirited production of the technically-demanding musical, THE ADDAMS FAMILY.

Great work by set designers Dave Myers, Christina Yearout and their hard-working crews for bringing the park setting out into the audience. The matte paintings on the side walls and the four free-standing trees worked well. The Addams Family mausoleum was very impressive and beautifully done.

Visually, the costumes and make-up of the main characters looked spot-on their comic strip counterparts. The ancestors’ costumes worked well for the most part, but I was unclear about the time frame for a couple of the female ghosts and the conquistador’s breast plate was a bit off.

Anne Schneider as Morticia & Gregory Good as Gomez.

Anne Schneider as Morticia & Gregory Good as Gomez.

Turning to the cast, Gregory Good and Anne Schneider, as Gomez and Morticia, do a great job of bringing their characters to “life” and are vocally strong.

Victoria Garcia as Wednesday does well with the character. In trying to keep Wednesday’s deadpan delivery, there were a few times when you voice was hard to hear. When singing, it did seem like you were pushing some notes a bit too hard. Just relax, you have it. Also be aware that your hairstyle tends to block your face when standing in profile. You can cheat your face out to the audience a bit or even tuck you hair behind your downstage ear to let us see more of your face.

Alexander Mullins has a solid singing voice and makes a good Pugsley, although I wouldn’t mind him being a bit more of a mischievous brat.

Doug Bruening as Fester.

Doug Bruening as Fester.

Doug Bruening looks great as Uncle Fester and does well with his solo, “The Moon and Me.” Character-wise, Fester still has a few too many fries in his Happy Meal, coming off a bit too “normal.” There is one misstep on the costume. Fester does not have a [visible] neck.

Victoria Covarrubias is Grandma. Her mannerism and voice do well in portraying the age of her character, but visually she needs makeup to look older. I think there is more fun to have with the character that a bit more energy and vocal variety could bring out.

Matthew Prater takes on the role of Wednesday’s beau, Lucas. His submissiveness to Wednesday works well, but there were times on stage where the actor seemed unclear what to do with himself. It might help to make some character decisions in advance on your stance and your reactions to the action on stage.

Kent Smith as Mal Beineke,  Sam Johnson as Lurch & Lindsey Morgan as Alice Beineke.

Kent Smith as Mal Beineke, Sam Johnson as Lurch & Lindsey Morgan as Alice Beineke.

Kent Smith started out with a solid character in Mal Beineke. I’m not sure if the entrance problem threw him, but he seemed to lose his way through the remainder of the first act. He bounced back in the second act but never reached that initial characterization.

Lindsey Morgan does a good job as Alice Beineke. She handles her solo well, but don’t be afraid to go bigger with your reactions to some of the Addams craziness or when you are “under the influence.”

Sam Johnson does well as the stoic, grunting butler. Knowing the show, I was a bit worried about his demanding solo, but Johnson has a great voice and nails it.

Because they are mostly silent, I would encourage the ensemble of Addams family ancestors to work on defining how your characters move and react throughout the show. The flapper is the party girl of the ’20s and always up for fun, the cowboy could walk bow-legged and “spit” to show his disapproval. Remember that someone is the audience is always looking at you, so always stay in character when you are on stage. At one point there was a backup making an exit and many of you dropped character. It looked like a group of people waiting to get on a bus.

As I said, this show is technically demanding and on opening night there were several issues. For a show this demanding, bringing in tech earlier than usual would give the crew extra time to work out the kinks.

The show’s run time could be reduced by about ten minutes. Tightening of some of the tech (especially the timing of the curtains opening and closing) would help, as well as better choices in getting the ensemble on and off stage. Several times, the curtains would open to reveal the actors, but they would cross to their mark before speaking. I’m pretty sure the cast can walk and talk at the same time.

Alexander Mullins as Pugsley & Victoria Covarrubias as Grandma.

Alexander Mullins as Pugsley & Victoria Covarrubias as Grandma.

The set design offered many different play areas and levels, but they seemed underused when the entire cast was on stage. The platform and ramp across the floor was a smart idea, but it was used so infrequently that it seemed a wasted effort.

The choreography was fine, but some of the ensemble really need to repeat it til they learn it. The three ladies in “The Moon and Me” need to work so that their legs and angles match. In some of these numbers, I would have liked to see more of the play areas and levels used. Vocally there were several places where the entire cast didn’t come in together on the first note. Also the timing in “Pulled” could use a little work.

A small note about the program. The listing of musical number does not include which characters are performing which songs.

Sunset aimed high by tackling this demanding monster of a show and they are successful in many aspects. Some problems will work themselves out as the run continues. Opening night, there were several families in attendance and the younger audience members were enthralled. THE ADDAMS FAMILY makes for a fun and affordable trip to the theater for the entire family.

My rating: 3.25 out of 5

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