There’s something to be said for people doing the thing that they love. In theater, passion can be enough to cover a soft script and the shortcomings in budget or resources that companies often face.
In Novato Theater Company’s 103rd season opener, The Addams Family (directed by Marilyn Izdebski with musical direction by Judy Wiesen), such is the case. The show runs through Oct. 8.
Wednesday Addams (HarriettePearl Fugitt) falls in love with a normal boy. Chaos ensues when the families meet. Then, inevitably, there is a happy ending. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s predictable script tries too hard to be “hip” and lacks the wit, warmth and intelligence of any other Addams iteration. But what’s important here is not the plot but the passion. And there is nothing more “Addams” than passion.
The sheer joy of the cast is contagious. Added to this exuberance are some really fine performances. Of note are Todd Krish’s on-point Lurch, John Diaz’s adorable Lucas, strong matriarchs Morticia (Alison Peltz) and Alice (Jane Harrington), and an unexpectedly limber Gomez (Bruce Vieira). The star of this production, though, is Pat Barr’s Fester.
Barr brings Uncle Fester’s savant kookiness to life in a perfectly timed comedic performance. Barr’s ability to accompany themselves on the banjo just adds to the character’s charm because, of course, if any Addams played the banjo, it would be Fester. Even the slow, saccharine love song, The Moon and Me, never feels stilted or banal due to Barr and the ancestor’s pure joy of performance.
The show isn’t perfect by any means. This is still community theater. The adorableness of Cousin Itt (portrayed by various actors; this review was based on Alyse Levash’s performance) is under-utilized. The production would have been improved by adding more adorable stage time for the various young actors. Also, some of the ancestors, though beautifully costumed (by Tracy Redig), were out of sync, and at least one looked visibly frightened about their choreography. Then again, blending brand-new and seasoned performers is the beauty and importance of community theater.
NTC’s Addams Family has arguably surpassed the script in demonstrating what a kooky family can accomplish when given the chance. By not allowing minor imperfections to diminish the joy of the cast, they have given us a show where it truly feels like everyone belongs to a big, kooky family.
And there’s nothing more Addams (or more truly theater) than a kooky family.
’The Addams Family’ runs through Oct. 8 at the Novato Theater Company, 5420 Nave Dr., Ste. C, Novato. Fri & Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. $25–$35. 415.883.4498. novatotheatercompany.org.