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Broadway Palm’s ‘Addams Family’ will have you snapping your fingers and clamoring for amor


Ah, the intoxicating smell of the graveyard, proclaims Gomez in the opening number of the Addams Family musical. “Once a year, we gather to honor the great cycle life and death. Come, every member of our clan – living, dead, and undecided – and let us celebrate what is to be an Addams.”

This year, the graveyard is located on the main stage of Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and the musical features all the usual suspects – the flamboyant and flashy Gomez Addams, his lithe and luscious wife, Morticia, Grandmama, Lurch, Cousin Itt and, of course, Uncle Fester, whose ambition is to beat Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and NASA to the lunar surface.

But one of the stars of the Addams Family musical is Wednesday Addams. Now 20, she’s fallen in love with an ordinary boy whose ordinary family hails from Ohio, “a swing state.” Yikes!

Lindsay Hoffpauir doesn’t just play Wednesday. She is Wednesday, a delightful dichotomy of the macabre and darkness counterbalanced by a disturbing thirst for normalcy. But what makes her performance so superb goes well beyond the menace and mannerisms she brings to the character. It’s the relationships she conjures on stage.

Hoffpauir portrays Wednesday as the proverbial daddy’s little girl and, yes, she has her doting father wrapped around her diminutive little finger. “Well, if you can’t do this one little thing for me, well, then I just don’t know what,” she says with just the right amount of guilt-invoking angst as she swears her father to secrecy about her engagement.

By contrast, Wednesday’s relationship with her strong-willed mother is more nuanced. Wednesday is cognizant that her quest for normalcy will be regarded by her mother as a repudiation of her fierce allegiance to honoring and perpetuating Addams family heritage and traditions.  Wednesday adores her mother. They’re actually so much alike they could be clones. And knowing her mother as she does, Wednesday knows without a doubt that mommy dearest will do everything in her formidable powers to wreck her plans.

In the early scenes that Wednesday has with Morticia, Hoffpauir conveys this nuanced ambivalence through little more than body language, sidewise glances and her steadfast refusal to make eye contact with her overly-perceptive mother. Their early estrangement works perfectly to set up the audience [spoiler alert] for their reconciliation at the end of the play.

Liv Pelton also turns in a command performance as the imposing Addams matriarch. Indulged at every turn by her besotted husband, Morticia is the penultimate controlling mother. Guilt and manipulation are the tools of her craft. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice are Jewish, and understand the archetype well, and it is this aspect of Morticia’s persona that drives Wednesday to escape her home and her mother’s overbearing influence in order to be and become her own person.

But Wednesday’s aloofness coupled with her husband’s sudden sketchiness unnerves Morticia, who lives by the creed that to be blissfully married, a couple can have no secrets from one another – ever.

Even in the face of Morticia’s increasing anxiety and amped-up turmoil, Pelton maintains the elegance, mystery, passion and macabre that defines her character. She is mesmerizing in “Just Around the Corner” and tres tragic in “Live Before We Die.” But Pelton brings down the house with her sensuous abrazo and graceful ganchos in “Tango de Amor,” a musical number in which Morticia and Gomez are joined by the Ancestors and in which the audience discovers that Morticia actually has legs (and knows how to use them)!

Caleb Aguilar does a wonderful job of playing a man who finds himself in the middle of his strong-willed wife and equally strong-willed daughter. He also demonstrates an affinity for swordplay.

Jordan Bunshaft is a scene-stealer in the role of Uncle Fester. But his place within the structure of the musical is far more important. Fester operates as the musical’s quirky, engaging and larger-than-life narrator. But Bunshaft takes his character one step farther. He becomes the audience’s confidant, ushering them into the drama, transforming them from voyeurs into insiders. Bunshaft epitomizes Fester’s energy and joie de vivre in his rendition of “The Moon and Me” with the Ancestors. The number is one of the visual, if not musical, highlights of the show.

Lauren Fautch earns acclaim as the most surprising performer in the show. She plays red-headed Alice Beineke, a bored and somewhat desperate middle-aged housewife who speaks in rhyme whenever she’s nervous or uncomfortable … in other words, all the time. Her mousy demeanor lulls the audience, which is wholly unprepared for the transformation that takes place when Alice accidentally drinks a potion during “the game” that’s meant for Wednesday. Full disclosure: Fautch laying sprawled face down on the banquet table in front of Morticia and Gomez is nothing short of priceless.

Randy Kessenich is another surprise in the auspices of Lurch. Be patient. You’ll have to wait a long, long time to see … or hear … what he has in store. But when Kessenich springs his surprise on the audience, well, let’s just say it’s well worth the wait.

Catie Moss as Grandma (although perhaps not either Morticia or Gomez’s mother?), Jonah “Torture Me Please” Mendoza as Pugsley Addams, Matthew Harper Stevenson as Lucas Beineke and Steffen Whorton as Mal Beineke also turn in killer performance in their respective roles.

Ensembles typically advance the story and enhance the song-and-dance numbers in any musical. The Ancestors in Addams Family do that, to be sure. But they also serve as backdrop for, and an explanation of, Morticia’s undaunted allegiance to family values and tradition. And under Fester’s strong-fisted tutelage, they also play an important role in keeping the family together notwithstanding the rift that encompasses Morticia, Wednesday and Gomez. Patrick Agonito, Kiana Raine Cintron, Amy Fenicle, Gregory Holmes, Jr., Brandon Leporati, A.C. Lam, Ronan O’Toole, Adriana Michelle Scheer, Erica Seelig and Keila Sue Wong are visions in white both as singers and dancers, particularly in numbers like “When You’re an Addams,” “The Moon and Me,” “Crazier Than You” and “Tango de Amor.”

Whether you’re a fan of the seminal television show or the movie, and even if you’ve never seen either, Broadway Palm’s Addams Family Musical will have you snapping your fingers and clamoring for amor. Besides superior acting, singing and dance choreography, Addams Family has a lot to say about families, parenting and the importance of ancestry, even for putatively normal people like you and me (well, maybe not me, after all, I’m decidedly undecided).

Addams Family plays at Broadway Palm through May 25th.

April 14, 2024,


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