Joan Marcus
April 08, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Even before the start of the Addams Family musical on Broadway, when the overture riffs on the familiar theme to the 1960s sitcom (complete with audience-supplied finger snaps), you’re primed for a good time. And then a disembodied hand (Thing!) pulls back the curtain and the catchy opening number, ”When You’re an Addams,” raises your hopes higher, spryly reintroducing the death-fixated family in all its pale-faced glory. The look is perfect, from the lavish set to the monochromatic makeup and costumes. Could the whole show possibly deliver on that promise? Well, almost.

The stagecraft seldom disappoints; there are brilliant use of puppets, including a curtain tassel that springs to life and becomes a love interest for hairy Cousin Itt. And the cast, led by Broadway pros Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams, works hard to put over a script that seriously drags in the first act and generally owes more to vaudeville than the dry wit of Charles Addams’ original cartoons. Neuwirth interrupts her morbid love song ”Just Around the Corner” with the elbow-poking line ”Coroner. Get it? Death is just around the coroner.”

If you have a high tolerance for corn on the macabre, this is the show for you. Lane is the principal ham, milking every punchline in an accent that strays all over the European continent (Gomez is supposedly Spanish). But he also sings a genuinely touching song to his grown daughter, Wednesday (Krysta Rodriguez), who’s gotten engaged to a seemingly square Ohio boy named Lucas (Wesley Taylor). It’s in such quieter moments that the iconic characters on stage become more than mere shtick figures. (Tickets: 877-250-2929) B

(Tickets: Ticketmaster.com or 877-250-2929)

See all of this week’s reviews

type
Movie
Genre
mpaa
PG-13
director
Barry Sonnenfeld
Cast
Raul Julia,
Dan Hedaya,
Carel Struychen
Complete Coverage

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