By Catherine Bonke
The lights dimmed as a voice on the loudspeaker politely reminded the audience of emergency exits and cell phone usage.
“Also, the use of firearms, nooses, flamethrowers, thumb screws, guillotines, iron maidens and other torture devices is prohibited during the performance — but strongly encouraged during intermission.”
The tone for a dark, sarcastic and hilarious show was set.
A grim, pasty white and sadistic cast of characters filled the stage Sunday night as Stony Brook University welcomed the cast of The Addams Family, a Broadway musical that is currently on national tour. This classic, yet eccentric family was well-received by the audience at the Staller Center for the Arts, who barely went a few moments without breaking out into laughter.
Based off of cartoons published in The New Yorker by Charles Addams in the mid nineteenth century, the family appears to have the characteristics of any other normal family, but with dark and unexpected twists.
In addition to the well-known characters — Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Puglsey, Grandma, Lester and Lurch — there were also several ghostly ancestor roles who represented deceased members of the Addams family from throughout history. Clad in white, the ghosts included characters such as a bride, a soldier and a flapper, who entertained the audience with their impressive choreography and engaging stage presence.
At the start of the show, Wednesday wants to introduce her family to her secret fiancé, Lucas, but having a family that revels in darkness complicates her situation. She pleads with her family to be “normal:” a concept that her family has a difficult time grasping.
“Normal is an illusion, darling,” Morticia said in response.
Ironically, Lucas is pleading with his parents, Alice and Mal Beineke, for more rude and abrasive behavior, in attempt to avoid embarrassment and get through a dinner party that the two families are planning to share together.
Wednesday asks her father, Gomez, to keep the secret of her engagement from her mother, Morticia. However, through a game of “Full Disclosure,” where the family drinks from a legendary chalice and reveals their deepest, darkest secrets, Morticia finds out the truth.
Wednesday’s brother, Puglsey, upset about the idea of his sister leaving, attempts to draw his sister away from Lucas by putting a special potion in the chalice, a potion that brings the dark side out of people. However, by a classic mix-up of events, Alice Beineke drinks the potion instead of Wednesday, drawing out deep secrets of an embittered woman in a dull marriage.
In the second act, all goes awry as Morticia threatens to leave the family, Lucas refuses to run away with Wednesday and the Beineke’s marriage crumbles. However, a few apologetic, passionate and emotional songs later, all issues are resolved. The cast ended with “Move Toward the Darkness,” a closing number that signified their decisions to embrace the dark secrets in their lives and let go of inhibitions.
The musical was narrated by Lester, who had his own back story of a love affair with the moon. Appearances were made by “Thing” as well as Cousin Itt. The end of the show also features the shockingly beautiful bass voice of Lurch, who astounded the audience with a dynamic presence that surpassed his usual grunts and slow shuffle.
This fast paced and exciting show kept the audience engaged and entertained throughout the night. The multi-tiered and detailed set pieces added an exciting backdrop and were bathed in bright, cool lighting for extra pasty-faced creepiness.
Nothing short of outstanding, the Addams family entertained the Stony Brook audience with a captivating and frightening night.