Entertainment

Talk about a time-warp – and a warped family: But it’s such a wonderful wander down memory (and Cemetery) lane

By Kimberley Price

YOU will be immediately transfixed and transported (back to 1964) as the curtains open on a stage of nostalgia and you suddenly, without even realising it, are clicking your fingers in time with that unforgettable opening song.

And it might be creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky but it’s also a wild ride so belt up and get ready for a brilliant night of theatre.

The Addams Family circa 2019 follows the forbidden love story of Wednesday Addams and her secret fiancé Lucas Beineke as they introduce their polar-opposite families to each another in the hopelessly hopeful ambition they can live happily ever after.

With quick wit, countless conundrums, show-stopping numbers and brilliant portrayals of your favourite childhood characters, Echuca-Moama Theatre Company’s The Addams Family is a laugh-out-loud, feel good and stunning production.

Gerard Oman has nailed it as Gomez Addams – in looks, voice and spirit. Seamlessly sliding into the lead role with ease and confidence, Oman delivers an unforgettable performance as the completely infatuated and devoted husband and loving and caring father to his band of misfits.

It’s hard to believe Ivy Jensen, the blonde bombshell whose singing and dancing on-stage persona in previous productions has morphed into the poised and elegant Morticia.

Jensen’s make-up and outfit transform her on stage as she delivers a magnificent performance as the subtle, aloof and so terribly sexy matriarch of the family.

The exotic and sensual relationship between Gomez and Morticia sashays across the stage – before slipping into a fiery tango, which is sure to get the pulse racing.

Another enormous talent explodes on stage as Britney Evans lets loose with her strong vocals and stellar dancing – taking her character Wednesday from her somewhat stilted character to an emancipated flair brought on by her first love.

As a child, Wednesday Addams was one of my favourite characters – and Britney’s performance confirms that connection, she is so convincing.

Watching Aedan Lias as Pugsley is mesmerising.

When the youngster is the centre of attention you can’t take your eyes off his portrayal of the cunning yet loveable little brother and when he’s not, he’s worth tracking out of the corner of your eye just to see his expressions, stares and actions that make this such a complete performance – he is simply hilarious and definitely an under-the-radar star of the show.

Everyone’s secret favourite Addams is Uncle Fester and Jacob Honeychurch’s performance as the adorable oaf is outstanding.

Throughout the show Uncle Fester is a constant source of comedic material and surprising intelligence. His simple claim that life’s importance is pure love and his adoration for his family (and his latest heart’s desire) is incredibly warming – but still delivered with those trademark Addams aberrations (not least of which is his raccoon-faced appearance).

Two unexpectedly major show stealers are Narelle Bourke as Grandma and Bevan Madden as Lurch.

Bourke is Grandma from the tips of her crazy hairstyle to the toes of her widow’s weeds – muchos credit to the stunning work of the hair, make-up and costume team.

With crazy voice to match, her over-exaggerated expressions and hilarious one-liners make for a wonderful performance that’s sure to leave you in fits of laughter. The zombie-like Lurch is ever faithful to his Addams family and Madden’s portrayal makes for an exceptionally strong performance.

Without giving away too much, you’ll be blown away by his cameo in the second act and he’ll certainly be a talking point long after the curtain comes down.

James Coleman’s performance of Lucas, the goofy try-hard, is hilarious and his love for his fiancée is entertaining to follow as it unfolds.

Alisha Van Der Munnik portrays Alice Beineke, understandably and constantly on the verge of a breakdown as she meets the family. The high-intensity demand of the role is beautifully executed by Van Der Munnik who not only makes you feel sympathy for her character – she blows you away with her powerhouse vocals.

Playing the typical middle-class patriarch of the Beineke clan is Glen McFadden.

Mal Beineke is a stern and sensible father figure who is the most disapproving of his son’s choice in a partner yet, by the end, the melting of McFadden’s on-stage persona is truly heart-warming.

The 12 actors gearing up in complete white as the ancestors all bring their individual historical personalities to the stage.

Awoken from the crypt for just one night to celebrate with the Addams, Uncle Fester locks the ancestors out to help him with his task of securing Wednesday’s and Lucas’s happily ever after. Without giving away too much, the ancestors are a magnificent team and complete the show’s singing and dancing numbers.

The juxtaposition between the Addams and the all-American Beineke families is captured in dialogue and songs and in costumes and characterisation.

As the show progresses, the interactions between the families begin to break down barriers and you will find it hard to not relate some or (frighteningly) all of the domestic dynamics to your own family.

Goofy Gomez trying to get everything right, the distant strength of Morticia, the rebel daughter, slightly lost little brother and screwball extended family – not to mention the potential in-laws.

Any of this sound familiar?

You bet it does.

NOT SO NORMAL: Wednesday, played by Britney Evans, Gomez (Gerard Oman), Fester (Jacob Honeychurch), Morticia (Ivy Jensen), Pugsley (Aedan Lias), Grandma (Narelle Bourke) and Lurch (Bevan Madden)

This review would not be complete without acknowledging the spectacular work of the backstage crew. From the lights, sound effects, set designers, costumes, make-up and operations, the seemingly flawless execution of this fundamental work is extraordinary; with the backdrop work of Danny Hindson not in the starring credit but undeniably a star of the show.

Bringing everything together and to life is the musical direction of Victoria Pannett getting the cast to such a high standard and the choreography from Colleen DeWinne and Kaitlyn Bulmer is so synchronised it almost defied belief.

But none of what you see on stage would have been possible without the guidance and direction of Luke Westley.

It’s hard to believe this is his directorial debut – every inch of his imagination has been devoted to perfecting every glare, hip swing, contortion and click you see. Blocking and re-blocking sequences until the final hour, what Westley has managed to present is nothing short of magic.

I hope all the recognition throughout this review is felt by Westley too, because without him, truly, none of it would have been possible.

This ranks as one of the best productions EMTC has put together – and that’s after last year’s Phantom blockbuster.

It’s creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky and all together ooky, while also being hilarious, adorable, romantic and magical.

Seeing it once just won’t be enough.