“The course of true love never did run smooth.” William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Now in a satisfying production at SLOC, “The Addams Family” takes up this theme as the creepy Addams family, so secure in their admiration of all things scary and dangerous, find their way of life — er, death — challenged by the romance between teen daughter Wednesday (Tessa Rivenburg) and “normal” mortal Lucas (Jon Maltz).
Of course, book writers Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice have fun sending up our notion of what’s normal as we meet Lucas’ parents (James Wilding & Alana Streifert), locked in a passionless marriage that can’t hold a candle to the hot romance between Wednesday’s kooky parents, Gomez (Gabriel Hage) and Morticia (Elizabeth Sterling).
In other words, what’s black is white, what’s up is down, what’s in is out.
The lyrics, by Andrew Lippa, cleverly play with these opposites. And therein lies one appeal of this franchise, whose origins are in 1930s magazine cartoons by Charles Addams, with subsequent forays into a popular ‘60s TV show and a ‘90s movie.
Friday night’s audience snapped right along with the orchestra, under Melissa Narusky’s direction, when the familiar theme song opened the show, fully aware of the cockeyed merriment to come.
Dressed in ghoulish-looking costumes by Alexa (Rory) DiCristofaro, with spook-ling makeup and hair by Claudia Bertasso, the large cast enthusiastically executes James W. Alexander’s directions and choreographer Johnny Martinez’s dance steps.
If I felt that opening night was a little undercooked in spots, I can imagine that the pace will quicken and every moment will be crisp as the run continues.
To Streifert falls the evening’s strangest number, Act I’s “Waiting,” most of whose words, despite her good efforts, didn’t come across. A blocking problem, perhaps? The song is long and musically tough to listen to.
Act II, for my money, is the stronger of the two acts in terms of material and performance.
Sterling’s droll Morticia and her dead ancestors take the full quirky measure of “Just Around the Corner” (shades of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” from “Spamalot”). As Uncle Fester, the energetic Kevin O’Toole and a quartet of umbrella-wielding ghoulish chorines make touching work of “The Moon and Me,” with a fine assist by Hage.
Hage, who is delightful throughout, scores with the aptly contradictory “Happy Sad,” and the powerful singing of Wilding/Streifert and Maltz/Rivenburg in “Crazier Than You” finally smooths out that rough course of true love.
Kevin O’Brien’s Lurch is a sweet riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; Sam Radez’s turn as son Pugsley Addams is first-rate, so good is he with a line and a tune; and Molly Waters’s Grandma is ham on wry.
After the kerfuffle about romantic and familial love has been cleared up, Morticia says to Pugsley, “Life is a tight rope, and at the other end is a coffin. Feel better?” He does.
And in this topsy-turvy world of the Addams family, the observation seems completely consoling.
The Addams Family: A New Musical
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St.
WHEN: through Sept. 29
HOW MUCH: $28-$18
MORE INFO: 518-730-7370, or sloctheater.org