Horror Musical Comedy About Oddball Addams Family Hits Mark with Audience

2 November 2023, 1:00
Horror Musical Comedy About Oddball Addams Family Hits Mark with Audience

The musical comedy The Addams Family is the latest production to hit the stage of the Music Theatre of Brno City Theatre. Audiences are in for an ironic, slightly morbid and enticingly horrific spectacle for the whole family. A musical production has been crafted here which serves up a famous contemporary pop culture phenomenon, as well as a generous helping of hyperbole and catchy melodies to boot. And testament to the audience’s hunger for this wacky family is the fact that all thirty performances are already nearly sold out…

The spooky Addams family, made up of father Gomez, mother Morticia, children Wednesday and Pugsley, Lurch the butler, Grandmama and their faithful servant, a hand named The Thing, are certainly an unconventional bunch. The siblings play at execution, the adults mix sinister cocktails and the whole family adores everything black, all things beyond the grave and dead …

From a different perspective, The Addams Family is a perennially saturated pop culture phenomenon which has maintained an enduring popularity among audiences for nearly a century. The origins of this story date back to the 1930s, when illustrator Charles Addams came up with the idea of a quirky family. He created approximately 150 pictures depicting the opposite of the “conventional” American family of the time, a wealthy group of people who were unaware of their own eccentricity and bizarreness.


Several animated series and feature films have been made, and the latest in the series so far is a cartoon version of stories about this a ghoulish and entertaining family released in 2019, followed two years later by a second instalment. Last year, the streaming service Netflix presented the first eight episodes of the superb Wednesday (directed by Tim Burton, Gandja Monteiro and James Marshall) to huge success. This series about the smart, sarcastic and somewhat cold-hearted Miss Addams will continue this year with a second season.

The musical adaptation of this well-known material is the work of Broadway veterans Marshall Brickman (among others, a regular collaborator of Woody Allen) and Rick Elice, who wrote the libretto. The music and lyrics are by Andrew Lippa, author of songs for the musical Big Fish, the Czech premiere of which was held at Brno City Theatre this April. The Addams Family musical was first presented to audiences in Chicago in 2009. Since then, however, it has been touring the world and it was only a matter of time before it was picked up in Brno. Thanks to the incredible popularity of the TV show Wednesday, this return to musical performance at Brno City Theatre came at just the right time. And on top of that, Halloween is in full swing …

While the actual plot follows the family’s spine-tingling daily routine, the audience knows in advance that this is a sort of playful Halloween exaggeration with a touch of slapstick comedy. The atmosphere of the family meeting up with their dead relatives (who make up the central chorus line) takes a turn for the worse when young Wednesday brings her new boyfriend, Lucas, home to introduce him to the family, and on top of that, brings his parents too. The lovelorn, formerly depressed Wednesday surprisingly asks her relatives to behave like normal people who don’t live in a gloomy family mansion.

This clash of a normal middle-class American family versus the Addamses is logically the source of all sorts of dramatic escapades. It turns out that the Addams family are, paradoxically, quite normal in terms of basic human virtues. They like each other, they don’t lie to each other and they don’t play games, they just do morbid, incomprehensible things and adore death.

The Brno theatre professionals have preserved the cultural specifics and the entire visual character of the story. The action takes place in New York, mostly in the gloomy Addams house, or in the nearby cemetery and Central Park. Christoph Weyers therefore designed a black set for the huge house, in which eyes are constantly blazing red in the presence of sculptures of devils and demons. The clever set design allows for quick scenery changes and has the same rewarding effect ensuring a satisfied audience experience as the costumes created by Andrea and Adéla Kučera, logically based on the iconic outfits of the family from this iconic horror franchise. Imaginative costumes were also created for the chorus of dead white ghosts.

Stanislav Slovák’s direction tries above all to emphasise the fun dimension of the piece, but his take on the production in Brno does not fail to also make some more serious observations: that only after darkness comes light, and that joy and happiness sometimes require suffering or at least change all the way from the ground up. Slovák’s production with a live orchestra is well-paced and its three-hour runtime offers a funny, ironic and slightly scary spectacle with some great melodies. The music here is extremely playful and its imaginative lightness goes hand in hand with the director’s well-crafted exaggeration of the story, which – because it is a well-established brand – is performed under the English title The Addams Family. The story of the Addams family in Brno is not crammed full of unnecessary jokes, with just enough situational and verbal humour (thanks to the new translation by Zuzana Čtveráčková), even if some of the songs in Czech do grate a little at first. But it all comes together in a balanced blend of musical entertainment.

Some of the main roles have up to three alternate performers. The main role of the all-singing and all-dancing Gomez Addams was enjoyed with bravado by Alan Novotný, who floods the stage with his Hispanic temperament. His is a successful and expressive performance. Similarly, Svetlana Janotová as his wife Morticia relishes the precisely conducted, at times almost comic exaggeration of this character, and her singing is also faultless. The big young star of the show is then Esther Mertová as Wednesday, who keeps a tight rein on her portrayal of this wistful, lovestruck girl as a troubled but confident teenager and has a truly wonderful singing voice. Lenka Janíková shines in the role of Alice, as does Robert Jícha portraying her husband Mal. And the gruff tones emanating from Ladislav Kolář’s Lurch add the perfect final touch to this actor’s musical performance. The result is an entertaining show which, despite its eerie graveyard dimension, makes the musical truly come alive…

Photo from the archives of Brno City Theatre



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