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21st April 2022

Review: The Addams Family

Theatre Editor Jay Darcy reviews The Addams Family at Manchester Opera House, starring Joanne Clifton, Cameron Blakely and Scott Paige
Review: The Addams Family
Photo: Pamela Raith.

Following on from the success of the first UK tour a few years back, the Addams Family are back on the road – currently residing in Manchester’s own Opera House. Based on the animated shorts of the same name, The Addams Family sees a teenage Wednesday Addams fall in love with a normal boy.

I caught The Addams Family at the Lowry during its first UK tour. I absolutely love the characters and heard good things about the Broadway musical, so I jumped at the chance of seeing the UK tour. I was not blown away, but I liked it enough to see it for a second time.

I have to spend some time talking about the incredible cast. I love that they brought some of the original UK tour cast back – especially Cameron Blakely (Gomez Addams), who arguably steals the show. Grant McIntyre returned as Pugsley – a secondary character but extremely likeable and a great portrayal. Scott Paige, who had covered for an indisposed Les Dennis (Coronation Street) when I first saw the show, is now playing Uncle Fester full-time. Paige found fame with his appearance on The Circle – created by Studio Lambert, where I work – but his invitation to take on the role full-time is surely because of the hugely positive reception he received when he covered for Dennis. Paige has been away from the tour for the past month, with Matt Slack taking on the role. I’m sure Slack is superb, but I was glad to see Paige again.

Kingsley Morton played Wednesday Addams. She had big boots to fill, for West End darling Carrie Hope Fletcher originated the role in the first UK tour, but she sure gave Carrie a run for her money. Strictly Come Dancing champion (and champion of other professional dance competitions) Joanne Clifton had top billing as Morticia Addams – a role previously played by Samantha Womack (EastEnders). Womack is a master of playing ice queens  – heck, she literally played the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – but Clifton perfectly embodied Morticia. One of the reasons I wanted to see this musical again was to see Clifton onstage (I forgot I’d already seen her in The Rocky Horror Show). She did not disappoint – especially that sultry dancing.

The cast was completed by Carol Ball (Grandma), Sean Kingsley (Mal Beineke), Kara Lace (Alice Beineke), Ryan Bennett (Lurch) – and ensemble member Matthew Ives (covering for a covid-ridden Ahmed Hamad). The entire cast was brilliant, but Lace stole the show. Her transformation from a prim and proper matriarch to a wild and fiery goddess was incredible; she was basically playing two completely different characters – and she played both to perfection. Ives did a great job covering for Hamad – and provided a little eye candy for any thirsty viewers. Head to his Instagram to see more (much more).

Though not mind-blowing, the music is is memorable. Whilst some of the songs are a little mediocre, others are pretty marvellous. The opening number (‘When You’re an Addams) and the number that closes the first act (‘Full Disclosure’) are pure Broadway magic, and there are some lovely solo songs – especially Wednesday’s ‘Pulled’.

The set was elaborate, the costumes were well-designed, and the musical made good use of sound and lighting (especially the ghoulish echoes every time Morticia said “the game”). There was also some really nice movement, at its best druring ‘Full Disclosure’, which opened with the cast frozen in frame and later saw them moving in slow-motion. The scene (and act) ended with a tornado – the sound, lighting and movement were all exceptional.

The plot, meanwhile, was a little flimsy. It was fun, and the ending was satisfying, but the story was nothing special. As a whole, it’s a good musical. It’s not trying to be the next big thing, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s kooky, spooky, ooky, and a barrel of laughs – and isn’t that just the perfect Tuesday night?

The Addams Family runs at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until 23rd April, before heading to Norwich for the final stop of its UK tour.

The tour was originally scheduled to end in June, but the final four stops have been scrapped. A statement from the show said: “Due to the continued impact of the effects of Covid on our audiences and their willingness to return to the theatres, we have unfortunately had to take the decision to close the tour of The Addams Family earlier than planned.”

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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