I like my humor how I like my coffee – dark with a splash of sweet. Cheyenne Little Theatre Players hit the spot this fall with their mainstage production of The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy showing this month at the Mary Godfrey Playhouse, directed by Travis Kirchhefer. Kicking off a few weeks later than previous years, The Little Theatre wisely waited to coincide the show with the spookiest month of the year. Resurrecting the beloved characters of the 1960’s television show (and their ancestors, dating back centuries), the cast picked up their lives (and un-deaths) a decade later: Gomez (Jay Batson) and Morticia (Janet Weisbrook) still in the throes of passion, doorman Lurch (Paul Sandler) serving faithfully, Pugsley (Justin Woolsey) and Uncle Fester (Michael Christoffersen), each with their unique quirks, and Wednesday (Kathy Riedl), morose as ever… but in love. And therein lies the plot twist that drives the show.
Wednesday has fallen in love with Lucas, a young man from Ohio, and they wish to get married. Insisting that the families meet, Lucas brings his parents (played by Savannah Tipton and Austin Guritza) to the haunted abode in the middle of Central Park where hilarity ensues. The entire story is propelled by the heartwarming narration of Uncle Fester and his clan of trapped ghosts whom he cajoles into ensuring that love wins.
As a whole, The Little Theatre should be very, very proud and the sold-out Black Carpet Opening Gala was well deserved. The production quality shone, from the versatility of the set design (RJ Glantz) to the skillfully balanced sound design (Jason Gilbert), bringing the live orchestration to the audience from backstage. As a theatre technician myself, I especially appreciated the light design efforts put in by Todd Martin – the purposeful use of light almost became a character in and of itself, dictating mood and highlighting punchlines without becoming gimmicky or distracting. I look forward to seeing where Martin’s leadership as The Little Theatre’s managing director can propel the technical elements in years to come.
Also of note, one joy of community theatre is getting to watch local talent grow over time. Batson, in particular, truly embraced the role of Gomez and left his standard persona in the dust. He took his role by the hilt and wielded eternal amor for Morticia and earnest devotion for Wednesday. Likewise, Riedl’s portrayal of Wednesday was a delightful change of pace from last year’s presentation of Eliza Doolittle in the Little Theatre’s production of My Fair Lady and really showed off her acting abilites. The juxtaposition of her twitterpated, lovesick heart with the traditional Wednesday representation (albeit with a sassy, short bob) was delightful. Young Woolsey’s depiction of Pugsley brought rolling laughs through the audience (much like his take on Donkey in Shrek Jr., The Musical at Cheyenne Little Theatre’s Youth Summer Stock this summer). The clever scriptwriting of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and the hilarious lyrics of Andrew Lippa lent to an upbeat evening out, laughing in the face of death and embracing the joys of life.
This weekend, October 19-21 are your last opportunities to see The Addams Family. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday is a 2:00 p.m. matinee. The show, while family-friendly does contain a few racier elements (most of which would have flown over the head of my 10 and 7 year olds). Tickets can be purchased through the Cheyenne Little Theatre’s website at www.CheyenneLittleTheatre.org or by calling the box office at (307) 638-6543. Tickets are selling fast. Reserve yours today!