Tuesday, October 6, 2015

reviews - THE ADDAMS FAMILY - Desert Stages Theatre

(left to right) Mary Helen Labadie, Rob Dominguez, Jack Yampolsky,
Harmon Swartz, Janna Hanson, Kyle Chavira and Emily McAtee
photo: Wade Moran
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 1st.

 "The eccentric, gothic, macabre and kooky cartoon characters of the Addams family...found themselves on Broadway in a musical with Andrew Lippa supplying the fun, upbeat score and a comical, and even somewhat moving, book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The combination of the appealing charm of the ghoulish characters with the love they have for each other and the funny situations they find themselves in work well for a musical comedy. Scottsdale Desert Stages presents an impressive production, with plenty of laughs and a very talented cast that brings this strange family to life on the stage....While the shows ends up being a fun and fairly quick moving production, it has a very simple plot and minimal conflict, and several of the musical numbers are forgettable. Fortunately, the book includes a never-ending string of jokes, with many hilarious one-liners expertly delivered by the very good DST cast, and several of Lippa's songs do succeed with clever, character specific lyrics. As Gomez and Morticia, Harmon Swartz and Janna Hanson are superb. They've both played these parts together before and have only grown in their ability to breathe plenty of life and nuance into this lovable twosome. ...Hanson and Swartz make not only a believable couple but realistic parents as well. (Emily) McAtee is very good as Wednesday. She is fierce and full of life, with exceptional delivery of her comic line readings. ...Director Jere Van Patten excels in bringing out the touching moments during the comical dialogue scenes, rich character portrayals and moments of lunacy, resulting in overall impressive direction. Angela Kriese's choreography makes good use of the large ensemble...Set designer Paul Filan has created a fairly elaborate design that surrounds the audience with ghoulish paintings of the Addams home and surrounding areas, a cob web covered staircase and sconces, and a large chandelier, plus several second story playing areas that serve effectively as the various rooms in the Addams mansion. ...With a fairly simple plot, a score with only a few memorable tunes, and the need for the audience to already have some familiarity with the characters, The Addams Family is far from a perfect musical. It also is a show with a large ensemble that never really serves a purpose except to exist for the mostly unnecessary and numerous dance numbers. However, the end result is a fun show that includes many memorable moments, thanks to the kooky characters and the witty book. With a very impressive cast and clear direction that ensures the comic moments pop, Desert Stages' production delivers." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"In the close quarters of Desert Stages Theatre's Mainstage, certain aspects of a work may stand out more clearly than they would in a cavernous auditorium....in DST's current production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY, the audience may become more tuned in than ever to the love stories and the morals that are wrapped up in this crazy musical comedy...credit goes to director Jere Van Patten, who has put the fun into the funereal, and to his spirited cast of ghoulsters. Leading the high-energy festivities are Harmon Swartz and Janna Hanson as Gomez and Morticia. The duo nailed the same roles in last year's production by Copperstar Rep and have once again displayed their remarkable chemistry. Swartz's whimsical Latin lover plays off Hanson's voluptuous no-nonsense matriarch like a taut bow to a finely polished violin....the show has some lovely and touching moments. Kyle Chavira, whether communing with the graveyard wraiths wrapped in Aurelie Flores's imaginative white wardrobe or serenading the moon, imbues his character with soul. Eleven year young Jack Yampolsky's rousing solo, What If, glows with personality and passion, signaling a talent to be watched. Emily McAtee captures Wednesday's cool, calculating, and gothy demeanor while managing to display a necessary vulnerability. Emily Noxon's romantic awakening (Waiting) is a table-top crowd pleaser...Indeed, Halloween month would be incomplete without the eerie spectacle of a graveyard gathering of ghouls, and Desert Stages Theatre is dutifully filling the bill with this rib-tickling but heartwarming production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY (music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, based on Charles Addams's iconic characters), which runs through November 1st."  -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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