By Tom Titus
November 4, 2016, 11:30 AM
Just in time for Halloween, "The Addams Family" has dropped into the Costa Mesa Playhouse, welcomed by a standing-room-only crowd on opening night and continuing a tradition of kooky craziness dating back to 1938 when cartoonist Charles Addams first introduced his macabre characters in the New Yorker magazine.
This musical version from 2010 capitalizes on the popular mid-'60s television series and the subsequent movie trilogy in the 1990s, reintroducing a collection of creepy characters who'll probably need no introduction to most playgoers. They've been woven into America's entertainment fabric for generations.
The Costa Mesa production, beautifully directed by Jason Holland with Stephen Hulsey serving as musical director, is notable both for its characterizations and its vocal prowess. Several cast members seem to compete in holding the note of a final lyric, all boasting exceptionally strong voices.
Beyond this element are some dynamite interpretations, principally those of Johnny Fletcher as Gomez Addams and Erica Weisz as his seductive wife, Morticia. Both play their familiar characters (they've done them before, together) to the hilt, climaxing with an extended sensuous tango, imaginatively choreographed by Daniel Smith.
Jillian and Sean Barnett, siblings offstage as well, bolster the laughter as youngsters Wednesday and Pugsley Addams. Her character handles the thrust of the plot as she falls for an "outsider," a nice young man from Ohio, whom she brings to dinner, along with his stuffy parents in a plot sequence pretty much lifted intact from the second act of "You Can't Take It With You," including the post-dinner "game."
The goofiest family member is the far-out Uncle Fester, who's got a crush on the moon. Marc Montminy plays this weirdo wonderfully with a big assist from makeup artist James Freitas. Tiffany McQuay is a feisty Grandma, while Hans Kelsen waits until the closing scene to show off his vocal ability as the monstrous butler Lurch.
Bryan Edelmann staunchly plays the "straight" role of the young man in pursuit of Wednesday, with Rich Wordes and Jenny McGlinchey solidly enacting his conservative mom and dad. McGlinchey stops the show on one occasion with her wild reaction to a dinner party "cocktail."
Abetted by a chorus of "ancestors" from the local cemetery, "The Addams Family" is pure entertainment for all ages, played out on an attractive setting designed by Ryan and Amanda Linhardt. Not to be overlooked are the ghoulish makeup designs of Freitas, the wig stylings of Rachel Weekley and the costuming triumvirate of Laurie Martinez, Megan McCormick and Kathy Gordon.
If you haven't visited "The Addams Family" for a while (or even if you have), don't miss this elaborately and imaginatively staged revival at the Costa Mesa Playhouse.
If You Go
What: "The Addams Family"
When: Till Nov. 20; 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Costa Mesa Playhouse, 611 Hamilton St., Costa Mesa
Cost: $18 to $22
Information: (949) 650-5269 or visit http://www.costamesaplayhouse.com