Metropolis' funny, spirited 'Addams Family' revival among its best

  • Courtney San Pedro, center, plays the wonderfully dour Wednesday Addams in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's terrific revival of "The Addams Family."

    Courtney San Pedro, center, plays the wonderfully dour Wednesday Addams in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's terrific revival of "The Addams Family." Courtesy of Jennifer Hein Photography

  • Christopher Johnson and Savannah Sinclair play the "normal" parents of Wednesday Addams' "normal" boyfriend Lucas in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's revival of "The Addams Family."

    Christopher Johnson and Savannah Sinclair play the "normal" parents of Wednesday Addams' "normal" boyfriend Lucas in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's revival of "The Addams Family." Courtesy of Jennifer Heim Photography

  • Courtney San Pedro, left, plays Wednesday and Elliott Mayeda plays her younger brother Pugsley in "The Addams Family," running through Oct. 8 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.

    Courtney San Pedro, left, plays Wednesday and Elliott Mayeda plays her younger brother Pugsley in "The Addams Family," running through Oct. 8 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. Courtesy of Jennifer Heim Photography

 
 
Updated 9/22/2023 10:52 AM

"The Addams Family" -- ★ ★ ★

In 2009, "The Addams Family" premiered in Chicago. Based on cartoonist/illustrator Charles Addams' comically macabre characters, the Broadway-bound production boasted a creative team with Broadway bona fides in writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice ("Jersey Boys") and composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa ("Big Fish"). Innovative director/design duo Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch helmed the show and Tony Award-winners Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth starred.

 

Unfortunately, star power couldn't make up for what was an overstuffed, unfocused tuner. Fortunately, subsequent revisions (before and after "The Addams Family" bowed on Broadway, including the excising of a romantic encounter with a giant squid) vastly improved the show, as evidenced by the revised version running at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.

Courtney San Pedro plays Wednesday Addams and Dru Loman plays her boyfriend, Lucas Beineke, in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's "The Addams Family."
Courtney San Pedro plays Wednesday Addams and Dru Loman plays her boyfriend, Lucas Beineke, in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's "The Addams Family." - Courtesy of Jennifer Hein Photography

The musical now features retooled songs and a more focused narrative that make for a much more entertaining show. And while director Robbie Simpson's cast doesn't include Broadway vets, his ensemble is superb. Composed of principals with outsize voices, solid comedic actors in the supporting roles and a spirited chorus of singer/dancers, this is one of the strongest ensembles I've seen on Metropolis' stage.

They're accompanied by music director/conductor Aaron Kaplan's 11 instrumentalists, the largest, tightest Metropolis orchestra in recent memory.

Like George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's classic comedy "You Can't Take It With You," which "The Addams Family" echoes, the show's humor comes from the clash between the endearing oddballs who make up the Addams' clan and the strait-laced outsiders, or "normal" folks, they welcome into their home.

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The sold-out, opening-night crowd, who snapped their fingers to the overture, which includes music from the 1960s sitcom, was clearly in the mood for fun. And Simpson's production delivered plenty of laughs.

Addams family ancestors surround patriarch Gomez Addams (Enzo Donoso), center, who's struggling to keep his wife, Morticia, and 18-year-old daughter Wednesday happy in "The Addams Family," running through Oct. 8 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
Addams family ancestors surround patriarch Gomez Addams (Enzo Donoso), center, who's struggling to keep his wife, Morticia, and 18-year-old daughter Wednesday happy in "The Addams Family," running through Oct. 8 at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. - Courtesy of Jennifer Hein Photography

That said, the actors were so busy tickling our funny bones, they failed to touch our hearts. At its core, this musical is about a family (living and dead members included) that loves and accepts each other, quirks and all. For that reason, the show could benefit from a bit more feeling.

The exception is Josh Frink's kindhearted Uncle Fester. Gently played by Frink, Fester -- a true romantic -- enlists Addams ancestors to ensure a pleasant meet-and-greet between the family, Wednesday's new boyfriend and his parents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Like her husband, Morticia Addams (Kaity Paschetto) communes with her ancestors in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's revival of "The Addams Family," directed by Robbie Simpson.
Like her husband, Morticia Addams (Kaity Paschetto) communes with her ancestors in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's revival of "The Addams Family," directed by Robbie Simpson. - Courtesy of Jennifer Hein Photography

Courtney San Pedro, a droll charmer with a big voice, plays teenage Wednesday, the "irrepressible bundle of malice" in love with nice guy Lucas Beineke (Dru Loman). He arrives with his parents -- uptight Mal (Christopher Johnson) and Alice (Savannah Sinclair), who speaks in rhymed cliches -- at the family's home (a suitably spooky mansion by set designer Eric Luchen and lighting designer Sam Stephen). They're greeted by the vampiric Morticia (a deliciously deadpan Kaity Paschetto) and the genial Gomez (Enzo Donoso), who struggles to keep their daughter's imminent engagement a secret from his wife.

Rounding out the cast is Elliott Mayeda, as younger brother Pugsley, Jenny Rudnick as plain-speaking Grandma and Kent Joseph as the family's stoic butler Lurch, whose transformation late in the second act is truly impressive.

The production had one genuine showstopper, Sinclair's "Waiting," an impassioned lament to an indifferent husband. But it might have had one or two more had the cast not hurried San Pedro's "Pulled," the tuneful "Crazier Than You" or Paschetto's gleefully chilling "Just Around the Corner," which was accompanied by a thoroughly entertaining Ancestors' kick line.

Josh Frink plays the lovable Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family" revival at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
Josh Frink plays the lovable Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family" revival at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. - Courtesy of Jennifer Hein Photography

That brings us to Jeni Donahue's Broadway-style choreography. Big and bold, it's beautifully performed by first-rate singer/dancers: Nikki Ahlf, Jenny Couch, Angel Diaz, Dani Goldberg, Maya Hillman, Alex Iacobucci, Ciara Jarvis, Will Leonard, Shaun Peters and Joey Prette.

All in all, "The Addams Family" was one of Metropolis' most entertaining productions. I'm not the only one who thought so. In the parking garage elevator post-performance, a man remarked on the quality of the production, which he proclaimed was "as good as anything running in Chicago."

No argument there.

• • •

Location: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 577-2121, metropolisarts.com

Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 8; 2 p.m. Sept. 28

Running time: About 2 hours, 25 minutes, with intermission

Tickets: $10-$45

Parking: Nearby garage and street parking

Rating: For teens and older, contains some sexual innuendo

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