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When you’re an Addams

2024’s spring musical amuses and wows in equal measure
Junior Sam Razumma plays Uncle Fester, the musicals narrator who guides us through the devious Addams Family history. (Tansy Velush)

“The Addams Family” has been around for almost a hundred years, ever since the New Yorker commissioned Charles Addams to draw a collection of single-panel comics in 1938. While odd and macabre, the titular family entranced the American people for defying the American canon during that time.

Because of this, the entertainment industry has piggybacked on its success. It inspired its first television show in 1964, before creating the 1973 animated show, two live-action movies that included “The Addams Family” and “Addams Family Values” and, most recently, the Netflix show, “Wednesday.”

Every member of the Addams family has been ingrained in late 90s and early twenty-first century culture. Morticia Addams, the dark yet mystical matriarch, Gomez Addams, the flouncy and suave husband of Morticia, Wednesday Addams, the family’s dark horse, Pugsley Addams, Wednesday’s brother and subsequent play thing, and many others.

So, it was incredibly exciting when it was announced that the spring musical would be “The Addams Family Musical,” a deviation from the quiet yet commanding tone of last year’s musical, “The Secret Garden,” and replacing it with the dark wit of “The Addams Family.”

Knowing very little about the musical’s plot, I went into the performance fairly blind, my only context being the playbills the ushers handed out as we entered the Performing Arts Center. 

Expecting sugary singing and grim lyrics, I was incredibly blown away by my first introduction to the musical. “The Addams Family Musical” begins with “When You’re an Addams,” in which the entirety of the Addams Family and their Ancestors come onto stage, proclaiming the ways in which one “becomes an Addams.” 

In essence, the musical is all about Wednesday Addams, played by Audrey Nordtvedt (10), who has recently, and secretly, become engaged to Lucas, played by Luca Malouf (9), and decides to bring him and his family to an Addams family dinner in order to tell them that they are getting married.

After the original performance, Wednesday approaches her father, Gomez Addams, played by Ezra Hage (11), and tells him that she is engaged. After his elation, she tells him that he cannot tell Morticia, played by Natalie McManus (10).

Gomez spends the entire movie in a matrimonial crisis, juggling between hiding this secret from Morticia to keeping the trust of Wednesday. Ezra Hage is incredible in this role. He brings  hilarity to the performance without making Gomez seem like a caricature.

His best parts are his performances of “Two Things,” “Three Things” and “Four Things,” in which Gomez breaks the fourth wall each time in order to say the things that he can never do. The first time it’s funny, but the second and third made me chuckle harder than I had thus far.

Morticia, sensing Gomez is eclipsing the truth, ends up going down a spiral in order to grapple with the boundaries of her marriage. Natalie McManus’s interpretation of Morticia Addams is evident in the first song. Her voice is laced with equal parts power and venom, her mannerisms evoking that of McManus’s predecessors; Anjelica Huston and Catherine-Zeta Jones. 

Her performance is fixed throughout the entire musical. McManus’s acting is as unwavering as Morticia herself, from when she performs “Just Around the Corner” at the beginning of the musical’s second act to when she tangos with Gomez, both literally and figuratively.

Besides the two heads of the family, the musical centers around a dinner between Wednesday’s and Lucas’s family. Lucas brings his two parents, Alice, played by Louisa Ramstad (12), and Mal, played by Killian Patton. Alice and Mal have a sugar coated marriage, everything unsaid and unheard.

Meeting the nuances of the Addams Family throws their midwestern sensibilities on its head, letting Alice have a chance to breathe.

Ramstad’s performance is the most emotional one in the musical, setting itself apart from the usual comedy that’s sprinkled throughout. Her solo performance, “Waiting,” makes her stand out not as just someone supporting the titular family, but instead as an equal member of the story.

One of the more comedic portions of the musical is when Pugsley, played by Ryan de Forest (10), and Grandma, played by Rose Champion (12), act equally conspiring and playful in order to keep Wednesday from leaving the family. Both de Forest and Champion are hilarious in their respective parts, balancing out the musical from its more dramatic portions. 

The last section of the musical is of course Wednesday and Lucas grappling with the messy natures of their families and their engagement. Nordvick’s vocal range is incredible, her notes hitting every single time. Malouf has perfect comedic timing and he seems genuine every time he announces his love for Wednesday. 

All of these pieces of the musical flow and intersect and create the hilarious, dramatic and oftentimes sincere performance of the season, making it one of the best performances put on in a while and making it director  Ms. Miller’s first incredible step in the history of BHS musicals.

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