Review: "The Addams Family" at Rooftop Productions

Christian Jost

  • Contributing Critic

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Addams Family the Musical at The Center for the Arts in Manassas, Virginia. The musical, as expected, is based on the old Addams Family TV show and the 1990’s films. The show, put up by Rooftop Productions, follows an older Wednesday Addams who believes she has fallen in love with a young man, Lucas. Lucas and his family come from Ohio, which is a stark contrast to the Addams’s interesting lifestyle. Trouble in sues when Wednesday asks her father, Gomez, to keep the couples potential marriage a secret from Morticia, Gomez’s wife and Wednesday’s mother. This causes a rift in the family and all relationships involved.

The show also features Uncle Fester as a Greek chorus of sorts, addressing the audience periodically throughout the show. Fester is determined to have love prove victories and enlists the help of the Addams family ancestors to ensure things end up well for all. Pugsley Addams also features heavily as an opposing force to her sister’s new relationship, crafting the perfect plan that inevitably fails to split them up.

 Photo Creds: Mieke Trudeau

Photo Creds: Mieke Trudeau

Jay Tilley captured the character of Gomez with great comedic timing, facial expressions, and chemistry with the rest of the cast. Tilley’s booming voice made sure no one in the audience couldn’t hear a line or lyric. Tilley also maintained an accent throughout the show, which at times made some jokes not land the way they should have, but also helped us look at the character of Gomez, not seeing an actor playing Gomez. Sarah Jane Scott’s Morticia Addams was also brilliantly crafted and a fun character throughout the show. Scott sang flawlessly, danced in synch, as well as covered up a minor wardrobe/mic malfunction like a true professional.

Wednesday Addams, arguably the most recognized character, was portrayed by Abby Dahl, who really captured Wednesday’s inner darkness as well as the softer sides of the character. Though Dahl’s voice isn’t the typical type to portray the character (more of a classic sound than a belter) I never felt it detracted from the show. Dahl also had great chemistry with Ryan Walker’s Lucas, who was also a fun character performed well by Walker. As with all reviews I like to choose a “star/standout” of the show, in this case, it was quite easily Daniel Holmes and his portrayal of Uncle Fester, which was one of the best performances I’ve seen on stage in quite a while. He stuck true to his character and had serious vocal talent that many can only hope to achieve. I hope to see Holmes in many more productions where he can shine!

The show had a disadvantage when it came to staging due to its venue. Rather than a traditional stage, the show took place on a floor of the Arts building, so most of the audience was on the same level as the actors, which I’m sure made it hard to see for some. However, the direction by Ted Ballard was a success, especially in the small space, all feeling very natural while at the same time being faithful to the source material. Ballard also took on the set design which worked despite not being an elaborate two-story set like other productions of the show, less was more in his take on the set. Costumes were an effective way to express characterization due to Mandy Ken. Singing with tracks in never easy for an actor and can be unforgiving in the event of a mistake by a performer, however, I didn’t notice any actor off key or pitch or out of rhythm, so for that, I give credit to the music director Justin Streletz.

Finally, the choreography deserves some love, as stated above there was very little room to work with, and yet Gretchen Lamb was able to put together some really show-stopping numbers with a very talented ensemble.

Addams Family has two more weekends of performances, for more info on the show and tickets visit https://center-for-the-arts.org/tickets/