The Addams Family by Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove, PA
March 28, 2018
Review submitted by Victoria Kline of Academy of the New Church
Upper Moreland High School’s production of The Addams Family is a classic family soap opera… that is, if you enjoy your sitcoms with a side of sadism, a dash of the diabolical, and a singing choir of ghostly ancestors.
Based on the comics, tv show, and movies of the same name, this marvelously morbid musical follows the strange and absurd lives of the beloved Addams family. Only this time little Wednesday Adams has grown up… and found a man. It is up to Wednesday, crazy Uncle Fester, and some musical ghosts to make sure the first dinner between the new couple’s two families goes well. While at first it might seem a crazy thing to be an Addams, there is something in this wildly funny musical for everybody to relate to, whether it be mother-daughter drama, jealous siblings, or even marriage troubles.
Leading this kooky cast were the Addams parents, the hilarious Gomez (Barry Berglund), and his beloved wife Morticia (Jessica Stahl). This dynamic duo acted well together and apart, Gomez’s incredulous expressions and enthusiastic gesticulations pairing well with Morticia’s deadly sassy, smooth vocals. Morticia’s amazing voice shone in songs such as “Secrets”, unfaltering even in the face of difficult choreography.
Wednesday (Liz Jones) also stood out for her clear tone and drama, delivering her character’s development from a shy girl with one expression to an outgoing, expressive woman with refreshing clarity. Her fiancé, Lucas Beineke (Christian Tuffy), complemented her energy with just as much of his own, and the chemistry between the two was enjoyable to watch. But although these many dramatic performances were wonderful, the real star of the show was Uncle Fester (Nina Vitek), the crazy old uncle who fell in love with the moon. Throughout the play Vitek’s unfailing energy and impeccable comedic timing kept the audience’s eyes constantly on her character, while her wonderfully strange accent and dance stole the show and had the theater rolling with laughter.
Backing such dramatic talent was an equally talented crew behind the scenes. The student-built set was beautifully done, and made even more dynamic by ever-changing lighting: crimson, turquoise, and a haunting shade of blue to illuminate the pristine costumes of the ancestors. Although there were a couple of issues with sound imbalances, the crew did a great job fixing these as soon as they appeared, and the cast made up for it with their own vocal fortitude.
We all have our differences, our quirks, and sometimes we can let them get in the way of getting along. Upper Moreland’s production of The Addams Family is here to show us that instead of pretending to be normal, we should instead embrace our weirdness, and let the whole world know how crazy we are.
Review submitted by Trinity Pike of Upper Merion Area High School
From their magical grandmother to their growling butler, the Addams are far from normal. Add singing and dancing to the macabre classic, and a special, spooky musical appears. Crafting their own commentary on family, horror, and love, Upper Moreland High School brought life to the dead with their production of The Addams Family.
In this unusual show, Wednesday Addams is not a little girl anymore. Her teenage rebellion involves marrying her normal human boyfriend, Lucas Beineke. To help their polar opposite families reconcile their differences, they plan a dinner. Chaos ensues. The book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice puts a new spin on the iconic Addams Family, bringing hilarity to the horrific with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.
Despite the challenge of this unique premise, the cast excellently portrayed the caricatures of the family. Effective characterization brought a punch to the show’s simple choreography. While cast energy was sometimes lacking, the ghosts and ghouls showed their spirit in group numbers “The Moon and Me” and “Tango De Amor.”
Jessica Stahl (Morticia Addams) elegantly embraced her strict, seductive persona. With classy mannerisms and powerful, velvety vocals, she gave an edge to “Secrets” and “Death is Just Around the Corner.” Stahl’s chic, cool nature delightfully contrasted the over-the-top behavior of her husband, Barry Berglund (Gomez Addams). Berglund’s consistent Latin accent and skillful comedic timing had audiences chuckling throughout the show.
Another comical character was whimsical Nina Vitek (Uncle Fester). Expressive dancing and body language allowed Vitek to command the stage. Her adorable character voice and strong vocals made “The Moon and Me” a delight. Liz Jones (Wednesday Addams) proved versatile. She fostered great chemistry, whether teasing her brother Ethan MacBain-Adornetto (Pugsley Addams), pursuing a fiery romance with Christian Tuffy (Lucas Beineke), or trying to kill both. MacBain-Adornetto and Tuffy each revealed their own vocal prowess in “What If” and “Crazier Than You.” Another standout singer was surprise vocalist Brian Miller (Lurch). When he wasn’t contributing his rich bass to “Move Toward the Darkness,” he was perfectly slow and stiff, growling and groaning comedically.
From Fester’s magical purple to Pugsley’s urgent red, vibrant colors framed the story. Lighting by Josh Lusen, Robert Jones, Shailin Choski, Juliet Raginsky, and Chris Mason brightened the tale with precise timing. Adding to the aesthetic impact, Elena McMullan’s two-story set lavishly captured the Addams’ haunted mansion. While there were distracting sound issues, the sound crew persevered to deliver most of the actors’ funny lines. Stage managers Kirsten Denardo and Tabitha Schmer led the crew to create smooth scene transitions.
Upper Moreland’s The Addams Family was deliciously dark, but also surprisingly tender. Painting a bittersweet portrait, the cast and crew provided a heartfelt sentiment on growing up.