I laughed along heartily at The Addams Family, mainly because the cast worked so well to engage their audience. If only the musical itself was a little more innovative, this would be a brilliant show.
There was a palpable shift a little way into this opening night. It felt to me like nerves were very raw at first, but within twenty minutes or so, that was gone, and the receptive audience had warmed them up. Tim Stiles, in the role of Uncle Fester, seemed to be at centre stage when they clicked into gear, but the whole cast rallied beautifully as an ensemble and it was a beautiful thing to see this shift.
I loved the sharp attitude Lainie Hart brought to Morticia, and Gordon Nicholson delivered plenty of laughs as a trapped Gomez (I am impressed that he balanced the script’s stereotypes with some more subtle characterisation). In all, the cast and orchestra delivered a receptive audience with a truly engaging night of entertainment, despite working with a second-rate script.
I felt slightly uncomfortable about the paradox of a Spanish-American family who’d apparently migrated in the eighteenth century but still had a a Spanish accent and identified themselves as immigrants two hundred years later. Writing in 2009, I think Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice could have attempted to be more respectful, but it probably didn’t occur to anyone involved to consider the imperialism inherent in classifying anyone who isn’t an Anglo American as an immigrant. And it’s hardly a central element of the plot.
Regardless of the unfortunate stereotyping, the story and the values it espouses remain strong, and this, after all, is a light, fluffy musical comedy that trades on the reputation of a classic sitcom rather than the competence or cultural awareness of the writers for its success. It’s not an exploration of metaphysical significance or even a reimagining of a classic, but a vaguely-reasonable attempt to capitalise on nostalgia and turn a profit. It’s fun, and this cast enjoyed themselves enough to take the opening night crowd on a bit of a romp.
Perhaps these characters don’t ring completely true to the TV show I grew up with, but do we really expect them to? In the fifty years since The Addams Family ceased filming, our culture has shifted dramatically. Certain values have held fast, and this musical makes a valiant effort to be relevant… I’m just not convinced that remaking classics just for the nostalgia value is a worthwhile pursuit. Profitable, perhaps: but hardly insightful. And as much as I appreciate the odd bit of fluff, these times call for insight. And the book just doesn’t deliver however much the cast attempts to redeem it.
Tags: Andrew Howes, Andrew Lippa, Anglo American, Annette Sharp, Barbara Denham, Brian Sudding, Caitlin Schilg, Callum Doherty, Casey Minns, Charles Addams, Christine Pawlicki, cultural imperialism, Deanna Gibbs, Eclipse Lighting and Sound, Emily Geyer, Gomez Addams, Gordon Nicholson, Hamish McConchie, immigration, Jesse Sewell, Joseph McGrail-Bateup, Joyanne Gough, Lachy Agett, Lainie Hart, Liam Downing, Liam Jackson, Madelyn White, Marshall Brickman, Matt Black, Matthew Webster, Miriam Miley-Read, Morticia Addams, Nathan Patreach, Nathan Rutups, Queanbeyan, Rachel Thornton, Rick Elice, Siodhan Hansen, Sophie Hopkins, Spanish American, Stephen Pike, The Addams Family, The Q, Tim Stiles, Tristan Davies, Uncle Fester, Wednesday Addams
Everyman Theatre has opened a fine production of a modern classic at the Courtyard.
The story of a group of impoverished friends struggling to make their name in New York under the shadow of HIV/AIDS, Rent is among the longest-running Broadway musicals, having been performed at the Nederlander Theatre from 1996 to 2008. Its historical significance (both social and theatrical) is great, and it is starting to show its age, with a few obscure lines now highlighting the changes that have come about in western society’s responses to HIV/AIDS and homosexuality in the last decade. It remains, however, a very poignant story, highly developed in character and plot; qualities that are extremely rare in musical theatre.
It can’t be denied that Rent is a big show. Nothing about it is intimate; its themes are as lofty as its music is histrionic. And its characters, while well-developed, are nonetheless representatives of archetypes more than they are individual personae. So to squeeze this vast musical into the Courtyard at the Canberra Theatre Centre is a curious choice. Perhaps it is the bite…
The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.
Tags: Adrian Flor, AIDS, Alexander O'Sullivan, Amy Fitzpatrick, Chris Neil, Christine Pawlicki, Christopher Pappas, Dave Collins, Duncan Driver, Eliza Shephard, Everyman Theatre, James McPherson, Jarrad West, Jason Henderson, Joanna Licuanan, Jordan Kelly, Julia Jenkins, Kate Graham, Lachlan Ruffy, Laura Dawson, Louiza Blomfield, Marion West, Mathew Chardon O'Dea, Max Gambale, Musical theatre, Nathan Fernandez, Nathan Patrech, Nederlander Theatre, New York, Nick Griffin, Nick Valois, Nikki Fitzgerald, Nyasha Nyakuengama, Rent, Ronnie Flor, Sarah Pritchard, Sophie Stanton, Taimus Werner-Gibbons, Vanessa De Jager, Will Huang
Tuggeranong Arts Centre‘s Women’s Theatre Forum is creating some great opportunities, and it’s encouraging to see regular performances in Tuggeranong’s magnificent theatre. My opinion is that in terms of space, acoustics and relationship between stage and auditorium, this remains the single best theatre space in Canberra, and it’s unfortunate it’s been such a struggle to see it used more. The set for Wyrd Sisters is one of the best I’ve seen in this space, so I was very pleased to see the auditorium so near to full for tonight’s performance.
They were a very responsive audience too. The sisters of the title did a great job with Stephen Briggs’ very clunky script, and attracted plenty of laughs with the one-liners scattered through it. Briggs really hasn’t given any of Pratchett’s characters much to work with, and a few moments fell flat on the back of his spartan and somewhat filmic dialogue and scenography.
The play has a huge and diverse cast of characters, and director Kerrie Roberts did very well at casting performers with complementing multiple characters, which can often be a confusing task. Overall it’s an impressive cast, although comic timing may not have been everyone’s forte.
As a play for the Women’s Theatre Forum, I am not sure it quite gives adequate focus to the witches, or to Duchess Felmet. The action and plot really centre on the ineffectual Duke and his fool, played by Tony Cheshire and Jonathan Sharp, both of whom I’ve had the pleasure of directing in other productions. Despite the strength apparent here, I would certainly have enjoyed seeing greater depth and greater attention for Janine O’Dwyer’s lovable Nanny Ogg, Elaine Noon’s forthright Granny Weatherwax, and Tracy Thomas’s young and idealistic Magrat.
Nonetheless, Wyrd Sisters is a funny and enjoyable show with an enthusiastic cast intent on engaging with their audience. You’ve got two more performances if you want to see it.
Tags: AJ Biega, Andrew Jackson, Ashley Davis, Bevan Noble, Caitlin Davis, Cerri Murphy, Chris Donohue, Christine Pawlicki, Dene Burton, Elaine Noon, Janine O'Dwyer, Jenna Arnold, Jonathan Sharp, Judith Peterson, Katherine Byron, Kerrie Roberts, Khiani Klaus, Liam Wilson, Michael Miller, Nina Stevenson, novel to stage, Pablo Latona, Peter Butz, Ralphie Kabo, Robbie Matthews, Stephen Briggs, Terry Pratchett, Thompson Quan Wing, Tony Cheshire, Tracy Thomas, Wyrd Sisters