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The Addams Family

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A production based on such iconic characters as those created by Charles Addams in his devilishly dark cartoons about ghoulish characters inhabiting the Addams family mansion has a tall order to fill. In this case, some elements are successfully portrayed and others fall disappointingly short.


On any stage, Douglas Sills (Gomez Addams) inhabits his characters with a zest that is hard for lesser mortals to match, and this production proves no exception. Given Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice's lackluster book, though, it is hard to find too much fault with the actors.


In short, Wednesday Addams (Cortney Wolfson) has fallen in love with Lucus Beineke (Brian Justin Crum) from Ohio, and they plan to marry. Gomez has promised his daughter that he won't tell any of this to Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger), even though they have always promised to keep no secrets from each other. In a Guess Who's Coming to Dinner scenario, Lucus's parents will be visiting the family, and trouble is anticipated.

Gettelfinger, with much Broadway experience, is slightly miscast as the sensual object of Gomez' lusty fascination. The token attempt to deliver sex is with a dress that has dangerous cleavage. Whether directors Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch sanitized the show for family audiences or they missed the boat entirely is moot, but the creepy factor and erotic undertones are attempted but never jell.

Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond) does present some quirky theatrical moments, though. Having fallen in love with the moon, he delivers a number, "The Moon and Me" while suspended above the stage a la Peter Pan. His characterization is fun and provides some of the better moments of the play.

Wolfson, on the other hand, is far from Addams' gloomy and macabre daughter. She comes across as a typical spoiled teen, carrying out her lackluster tortures of brother Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy) and kvetching about her love life. Kennedy manfully executes his goofy and offbeat little brother.

Rounding out the cast are Pippa Pearthree as Grandma, Tom Corbeil as Lurch (in a show-stopping comic cameo), Martin Vidnovic as Lucus' father, and Gaelen Gilliland as his mother. While they all have some amusing moments, the general effect is contrived and is more sit com than Broadway. Interestingly, an element of the show that is visually attractive is a group of Addams' ancestors fresh from the grave. Sergio Trujillo's choreography and Crouch and McDermott's costumes and set design amp up the energy in several scenes.

One liners and some shtick fill in the spaces between musical numbers, most of which are well executed but forgettable. All in all, it is typical of a show that is built to travel. It has the obligatory t-shirt and souvenir stand in the lobby, and it will probably do well with general audiences. It is, however, full of missed opportunities and expedient artifice.



Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.