Addams

Christopher Tracy plays Pugsley and Liv Lyman is Wednesday in The District Theatre's "The Addams Family."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

There's nothing wrong with a whole lotta goofy.

And that's just what audiences at The District Theatre in Rock Island are getting with "The Addams Family," its "grand opening" musical at the former Rock Island Argus building.

Don't expect to go into this one looking for subtle character nuance. Nearly everything is over the top, and for the most part delightfully so.

The sight gags are plentiful, as well as references — overt and covert — to other Broadway musicals, including The District's own productions, perhaps a little in-joke to its longtime patrons.

Thanks to some quick thinking by Jason Platt, who plays patriarch Gomez Addams, there were a few more laughs on opening night last Thursday. Two malfunctions — a tray of (empty, plastic) wine glasses spilling and a torture chair that sent a projectile flying into the air — were nicely covered by Platt, who was already breaking the fourth wall with grins and raised eyebrows.

He and Liv Lyman, who plays Wednesday Addams, have some of the show's tender father-daughter moments as she confides in him that she wants to marry her "normal" boyfriend, played by Anthony Natarelli. Lyman's solos are some of the vocal highlights of the show (with music direction by Ben Holmes), ranking with the opening number, "When You're an Addams."

Platt's on- and offstage wife, Erin, isn't given enough to do as Morticia other than to play the villain in Wednesday's marriage plans but does have a smooth onstage rapport with Jason/Gomez as well as in their tangos, choreographed by director Tristan Tapscott.

The rest of the family includes James Fairchild, sweet and loveable as a moonstruck Uncle Fester; Christopher Tracy, as a bratty Pugsley; and Nancy Teerlinck, showing Carol Burnett-esque delivery as Grandma. In an interesting bit of casting, Sara Wegener is on stilts to play butler Lurch, looking more frightened than frightening, but has a short solo at the end in her own voice, countering the computer-synthesized voice she mouths for Lurch's earlier lines.

David Miller and Jennifer Sondgeroth play the squarish parents of Natarelli's character, and it's especially fun to see Quad-City Music Guild veteran Sondgeroth let loose after her character's been given some truth serum.

Fairchild, Tracy, Wegener and especially three Addams "ancestors" played by Aaron Lord, Mark Ruebling and Linda Ruebling, benefit from makeup designed by Nici Bennett and Spencer Fillman, playing along nicely with the costumes designed by Wegener and Sara Kutzli.

Tapscott's direction keeps the spirit of the schtick of the show, and his set design finally shows what he can do with the expanse of his theater's new space, with fold-out flats and a revolving set piece.

The only knock on opening night was the poor lighting — both misdirected and lacking — which Tapscott said was an electrical snafu that had been fixed.

The TV show's familiar theme song is sadly missing, although the audience was ready to snap along with the tune's introduction, provided by a five-piece band just off stage.

Don't expect to be frightened by this "Addams Family," but do go with the intent on having a lot of fun.

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