Ogunquit’s season keeps getting longer every year, and this year, its 82nd, the playhouse is stretching it out an astounding 23 weeks – just five days shy of Halloween. October is a time for strange and creepy creatures. And, “The Addams Family” is a spooktacular celebration of all that is ghoulishly peculiar and magnificently macabre.
What is normal? It’s a concept hard to define, but one thing is for sure – “The Addams Family is delightfully different. That alone makes this a must-see musical. Add in an infectious score, mesmerizing set, captivating costumes, magical puppetry and the perfect cast, and it becomes a musical to die for.
The world of Charles Addams’ beloved, bizarre family vibrantly comes to life on Ogunquit’s stage with the Broadway set and costumes by designers Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, and award-winning puppets by Basil Twist.
The elaborate cemetery set offers a stunning contrast with the sparse, dungeon-like interior of the Addams’ family home. In the beginning, the giant wrought iron gates swing open to reveal the seven-member family stoically standing in front of a moss-dripped tree, backlit by a massive moon.
As the family entertainingly dances on the graves of their ancestors during “When You’re an Addams,” the crypt doors unlock, unleashing billowing fog and eight ghastly ghosts from various time periods back to the caveman.
Twist’s puppetry is a ghoulishly fun treat that allows reality and cartoon to merge. “The Moon and Me” was a particularly magical moment Thursday, as Uncle Fester courted the moon, aided by unseen puppeteers, while disembodied flowers danced across the blackened stage.
Ogunquit has assembled a cast of actors that look and act like they stepped right out of Addams’ cartoon drawings. For several of the cast members, the characters are familiar friends. Rachel de Benedet reprises her role as Morticia Addams, having performed the role on Broadway opposite Nathan Lane. The lithe actress is picture perfect.
Shaun Rice is returning to the role of Uncle Fester, having just wrapped up an international tour of “The Addams Family.” He embodies the role, bringing a child-like glee.
Jennifer Fogarty, who plays the wide-eyed Wednesday, recently performed the role for 17 months on the international tour. She fits the role to a T. And, as an added bonus, the petite performer has an unexpectedly soulful voice that is commanding on songs such as “Pulled.”
Amanda Bruton and Laurie Wells are also returning to the Addams clan as Grandma and Alice Beineke. Bruton toured the U.S. and Asia as Grandma in the international tour, and Wells has performed the role of Alice regionally. Both deliver hilarious performances, with Wells vocally wowing on “Full Disclosure.”
Although new to their roles, David Engel and Matthew Quinn deliver standout performances as Gomez Addams and Lurch. Engel comes to Ogunquit directly from starring opposite Leslie Caron in “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.” He’s a smooth dancer, rich-voiced vocalist and thoroughly entertaining comedian.
Quinn is exceptionally cast as Lurch. The tall, lanky actor easily elicits laugh after laugh with his slow, unsteady gait and comically twisted facial expressions. And, although he’s generally as silent as the grave, he’s full of wonderful surprises.
“The Addams Family” is brimming over with creativity and fancy. It’s a world where a cemetery is stunningly beautiful, dancing ghosts impressively double as statues and everyone looks forward to seeing the monster under the bed.
The production turns normal on its head, making it fun to embrace the dark side. As Morticia says, “Bright colors are for people with no inner life and no imagination.”
WHAT: “The Addams Family” by Ogunquit Playhouse
WHERE: 10 Main St, Route 1, Ogunquit
DATE REVIEWED: Oct. 2; continues through the Oct. 26
INFO: 207-646-5511; ogunquitplayhouse.org