KAYSVILLE — What has quickly become a Halloween theater tradition in the state of Utah, The Addams Family musical, with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, opened to an enthusiastic and full house at the Hopebox Theatre in Kaysville. Having only ever heard of the Hopebox by name, I was pleasantly surprised by the value of the production in terms of acting, singing, set design, and other elements.
Gomez and Morticia Addams have a bit of a dilemma. Their daughter, Wednesday, is growing up. (“She’ll be Thursday before you know it.”) Part of growing up involves falling in love. Lucas Beineke is the boy in question, and he has stolen Wednesday’s heart and even made her smile. Mortified, Gomez and Morticia are even more frightened when Wednesday announces she has invited Lucas and his conservative parents, Mal and Alice, over for “one normal night.” There’s just one problem. Gomez promises Wednesday that he won’t tell Morticia about Wednesday’s plan to announce her and Lucas’s engagement; while at the same time trying to keep his promise to never lie to Morticia. Hilarity ensues as Gomez, Morticia, and the rest of the Addams and Beineke clans have a sort of You Can’t Take It With You with an ooky Addams Family spin.
The Hopebox is a unique place because the mission of the theatre is to bring “hope to families battling cancer through the performing arts”. Each show is unique in the fact that each show has a specific “hope recipient” to which all donations from the audience go to that person’s battle with cancer. The recipient for this show was Stacie Wheeler, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. The added value of community outreach makes this theater even that much more special.
The layout of the theater is unique as well. Similar to a theater in the round, the stage has 2 large sides to play to with a small center section in the middle, in a sort of baseball diamond shape. Theater in the round can prove difficult to achieve with people on all sides, but the cast of The Addams Family accepted the challenge and interacted with the audience well. Along with a different layout, Trevor Wirth’s set design for this show was simple yet versatile. All along the walls of the theater were painted neon visions of eerie dead trees, tombstones and cemetery gates. In blacklight for the pre-show, these neon paintings had everyone intrigued and gave off a fun atmosphere to prepare us for the show. The physical moving set pieces were easy to use for many different scenes. While the neon painted back wall served as a backdrop for the whole show, the interior of the Addams home was set on spinning and moving set pieces that could be changed for different locations of the home. When needed, they would spin 180 degrees, and serve as the gates of the Addams Family estate. Using the entrance and side entrances of the theater, the cast helped paint the illusion that we were in a large and spacious home.
To add to these charming set pieces, director Brighton Sloan selected a strong cast for this production of The Addams Family. All were great singers and actors. Brett Johnson as Gomez Addams was a fun performer to watch. While his accent switched back and forth every now and then, his performance was entertaining, and his comedic timing helped make the scripts quips that much more funny. Jan Williams as Morticia Addams was splendid, as she has a beautiful voice and portrayed the cynical and sarcastic matriarch of the Addams family perfectly. But the shining star of the evening was Mallory Thomas as Wednesday Addams. Often in a comedic piece, it can be difficult to portray a dramatic growth of a character. Thomas pulled it off, however, showing a believable and relatable performance. And her great voice added to to the role as well, as she sang high and difficult notes and songs with success. Along with these three, the rest of the cast was perfectly chosen to portray their characters. Fester and Lurch were especially hilarious and every word out of their mouths (or lack thereof) made me laugh without fail. The ensemble was actively involved in the production and portrayed many different fun characters as ancestors from “Addams past,” such as a monk, a flight attendant, a pirate and many fun others.
The costume design by Stephanie Bruckman was excellent and paid homage to the classic TV show characters. Gomez looked like Gomez, Lurch looked like Lurch, and so on. The ancestors also had a ghoulish look with white painted faces, hair, and costumes that added to the family friendly spookiness of the production. Kimi Christensen’s choreography was fun and engaging and kept my toes tapping all night long as well.
Overall, this production of The Addams Family is well worth the time to see this Halloween season. Not only for the performances, set, and costumes, but also for the opportunity to help someone in the community. I am proud to be part of a community that reaches out to those in need by expressing their talents in a way that helps and uplifts one another. The Hopebox Theatre is a great place, and The Addams Family will serve you more treat than trick. *snap snap*. (A note of caution, however. This production of The Addams Family has some adult jokes/innuendos that parents will want to be prepared for. )