Sunday, April 11, 2010

Addams Family Clueless

I am clueless about the appeal and humor of the Addams Family. Occasionally one of the original New Yorker cartoons elicits a chuckle, but that's pretty much the extent of it for me. Many clever actors have played the various characters quite skillfully, with John Astin as Gomez on the old TV program perhaps being the most artful and therefore the funniest. But this is not saying all that much in such a barren field of competitors.

Last night the latest manifestation of America's love for this strange and morbid clan was on view as the Addams Family characters opened in a new musical on Broadway, starring the truly remarkable talents of Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. According to Ben Brantley, anyway, their performances stand out from the rest of the cast, but the overall production is so bad it is likely they just want to forget they ever agreed to appear in such a mind numbing show. To get a taste of just how bad he thought it was, here is the opening to Brantley's review:

"Imagine, if you dare, the agonies of the talented people trapped inside the collapsing tomb called “The Addams Family.” Being in this genuinely ghastly musical — which opened Thursday night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater and stars a shamefully squandered Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth — must feel like going to a Halloween party in a strait-jacket or a suit of armor. Sure, you make a flashy (if obvious) first impression. But then you’re stuck in the darn thing for the rest of the night, and it’s really, really uncomfortable. Why, you can barely move, and a strangled voice inside you keeps gasping, “He-e-e-lp! Get me out of here!”

This show really does allow Mr. Brantley to take the theatrical tradition of panning a play to a whole new level. But should we be surprised? And how did these people find the funding for such a project in the first place? Did they really think this story which was already worn out when it first aired on TV and then was, at best, moderately successful, would result in a raving success now? Perhaps the producers believed the old adage that "no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." Something tells me that this time they will.


  1. Or, just perhaps, it is a clever plot to defraud little old ladies and walk away with the financing when the show closes?

  2. there's a plot with legs. Could be a movie, a musical, a regular cottage industry.