Monday, May 20, 2024

Addams Family Pre-Bway Opening A Smash


The Broadway musical version of “The Addams Family” is a smash.

Last week, in previews, “The Addams Family”  had the second highest gross with $1,192,213–finishing just behind “Wicked” at #1 and just ahead of “The Lion King.” It hasn’t even opened, but the musical is doing business equal to those shows as well as  “Jersey Boys” and “Billy Elliot.”

Some theatre wags are thinking, Hurry, take in as much as you can. Because once the show opens on April 8th, all may change.

Indeed, “The Addams Family” has been plagued by problems. The pair of original directors was replaced by Jerry Zaks, even though the duo’s names are still in Playbill. Zaks remains a ghost-director.

Numbers have been cut, added, reworked, and moved around to try and help stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth make sense of their roles as Gomez and Morticia Adams.

Many theatergoers are wondering what exactly is up with Lane, who’s playing Gomez with a terrible and unnecessary Spanish accent. Lane, they say, has trouble lighting a fire with steamy Neuwirth. Remember: Gomez and Morticia always had a sexy relationship.

Neuwirth, on the other hand, is hot. And a new number added for her toward the end, a with a tango dance, finally shows off her dancer’s legs. Previously she spent the show dressed head to toe in Morticia’s trademark black shroud.

Broadway is rooting for “The Addams Family” for one good reason. If it’s a dud upon arrival, then “Memphis” becomes the default Best Musical of 2010. Yikes! This has been a great year for plays but a bad one for original musicals. All the talk has been about revivals like “A Little Night Music.”

Insiders who’ve seen “The Addams Family” tell me it needs to be more like the TV show or the movie, and less about death. “There’s a lot of talk about death,” said one ticket holder. “Too much.” The good news is that the role of Grandmama, played by Jackie Hoffman, may get softened some more. No one who’s seen the show has liked poor Grandmama’s coarse bathroom humor.

Fans of the show will be surprised, I am told, to see little Wednesday Addams grown up old enough to be in a kind of “Birdcage” scenario with the son of a “normal” couple played by Terrence Mann and Carolee Carmello. The latter pair are, at the same time, sort of like Brad and Janet from “Rocky Horror.”

On the plus side: there’s lots of praise for the set. But they still need to add, apparently, Lurch’s pull cord in the living room. And these immortal words: “You rang?”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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