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Theatre / The Addams Family

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Creepier and kookier than ever!

The Addams Family is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The show is based upon The Addams Family characters created by Charles Addams in his single-panel gag cartoons, which depict a ghoulish American family with an affinity for all things macabre. It also features several new characters. Numerous film and television adaptations of Addams' cartoons exist, but the musical, which is the first stage show based on the characters, is officially based upon the cartoons rather than the television and film characters, though subtle references to the screen versions are made.

The plot revolves around Wednesday Addams, now a young woman, falling in love with a young man from a more conventional family and the culture clash that ensues.

After a tryout in Chicago, the show opened on Broadway in April 2010. The original cast featured Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. The musical was nominated for and won a number of awards, and has seen critical and commercial success in Broadway, US tour, and Sydney.

This musical contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Morticia sings "You have to be in love with Death" in the German and Dutch version of "When You're An Addams". Elisabeth made Pia Douwes (Dutch Morticia) and Uwe Kröger (German Gomez) household names in the theatre scene, and it revolved around Death's romantic pursuit of Sisi.
  • Adapted Out: Cousin Itt, although he did come back in the touring version. Downplayed with Thing, who cameos a couple of times.
  • Age Lift: Wednesday's age is changed from a young girl to a teenager of eighteen.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Gomez calls Morticia "Tish" and "Querida"note , and calls Wednesday "Paloma"note  and "My Little Atilla". Mortica calls him "Mon Cher"note .
  • All-Knowing Singing Narrator: Fester.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: Radio ads for the musical didn't even have to mention the show's name. It consisted of the famous theme song with an announcer saying "They're coming to Broadway" and giving the info to order advance tickets.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: "One Normal Night" shows Lucas and Wednesday both thinking this of their parents (for wildly different reasons) and trying to get them to not be embarrassing in front of the other's family for one evening.
  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: The whole point of Lucas and Wednesday's "Crazier than You" duet. (Lucas actually proves he's crazier by blindfolding her before she shoots the apple off his head; in the original Chicago production Wednesday actually says "Oh my god, you are crazier than me!")
  • Audience Participation: Reportedly when the play opens with the famous TV theme song, no one in the audience needs prompting to snap their fingers in time with the cast.
  • Bad Liar: Gomez, when he is trying to hide the fact that Wednesday is engaged to Lucas from Morticia.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Morticia, in the original preview for the show, discovers Gomez and Alice dancing (she asked him for a lesson to spice up her marriage with Mal), and goes after her husband with a sword.
  • Big Brother Bully: Wednesday was a gender-switched version. But in a typically Addamsish twist, Puglsey enjoyed it. The song "What if" had him confronting the horrible possibility that she might stop.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Mal, the very uptight father of Wednesday's boyfriend, loosens up and gets back together with his wife who he had been drifting apart from after being molested by a squid living in the Addams' basement.
    • Averted in the Touring version: Mal simply watches Wednesday and Lucas reconcile their love and is encouraged by Fester to do the same with his wife.
  • Bouquet Toss: Not at a wedding, but in the final song, the ghost bride throws Wednesday her bouquet as she re-enters the family crypt with the other ancestors. It's a cute moment that also symbolically resolves the question of whether or nor the latter's engagement would continue to its logical conclusion.
  • Breach of Promise of Marriage: Gomez assumes that this is the reason why Wednesday and Lucas are no longer getting married.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In addition to Fester's narration:
    • The opening number, "When You're an Addams" is sung to the audience, as are several others.
    • While the rest of the action on stage freezes, Gomez sings to the audience, explaining that there are "Two Things" and "Three Things" he would never do. When he starts to sing that there are "Four Things", Morticia turns out to be aware of what he is doing and tells him to stop.
    • During "Full Disclosure", Grandmama refers to the possibility of two 90-year-old "hotties" being in the audience.
    • During "Death Is Just Around the Corner", Morticia explains a bit of wordplay to the audience.
    Morticia: Coroner. Get it? Death is just around the coroner...
  • Changing Yourself For Love: Wednesday Addams changes from a sombre, unorthodox young woman who wears black to a cheerful, generic young woman who wears yellow for her love interest, a guy who is basically just the definition of generic.
  • Companion Cube: Fester with the Moon.
  • Continuity Cameo: Made by Thing and Cousin Itt, at curtain rise before Act I and II, respectively.
  • Covers Always Lie: The main poster promoting the broadway features the family as depicted in the origianl cartoons by Charles Addams. This however, makes it a bit misleading, as Wedensday is depicted in the poster to be a little girl, when she is actually an eighteen year old teenager in the musical proper.
  • Creepy Family: The driving trope behind all the adaptations.
  • Cultural Translation: The German version of "Pulled" has Wednesday saying Udo Jürgens' greatest hits have got her pulled in a new direction, rather than Liberace's.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lurch manages to be one without even speaking. Whenever someone tells him to hurry, he maintains his slow pace while swinging his arms as though he were running.
  • Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?: Uncle Fester is in love with the moon of all things. (It's the Addams Family, it doesn't have to make sense. Although, given that it is the Addams Family, the moon could be alive for all we know!)
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Gomez, when discussing Alfonso the Enormous with Mr. Beineke.
    Gomez: Do I have to draw you a diagram?
  • Everyone Has Standards: After Alice's Acrimonium-induced confession about how miserable her life and marriage to Mal have become, even Gomez (and by extension the rest of the Addams Family) is left stunned by how grim and dark her story is.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Used in the musical to signify that Wednesday's grown up.
  • Final Love Duet: "Let's Live Before We Die" and the Tango de Amor led by Gomez and Morticia.
  • Funny Foreigner: Gomez is clearly this while portrayed by Lane, who gives the character a "deliciously phony Spanish accent" (as described by a reviewer from the Associated Press).
  • Genre Deconstruction: One of the more refreshing aspects of the play is seeing the Addams Family argue and be angry with each other. In past adaptations, conflicts were usually external and the family is always fully loving and accepting of one another. Here, Wednesday is unsure how to tell Morticia about her engagement and swears Gomez to secrecy, leaving Gomez torn between his wife and daughter, and Morticia spends much of the musical pissed at both of them for keeping secrets from her. Even the most loving, close-knit families aren't always going to be on the same page.
  • Ghostly Goals: The reason the Ancestors don't go back to the afterlife after being summoned at the beginning is because they have to help Wednesday resolve her crisis. Biggest example: they create the storm that strands the Beinekes at the house.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: In the first act, Wednesday appears at the top of the stairs just after her "normal" fiance and his parents have arrived. Not exactly grand, but the "everyone stares" bit is played straight- because she's wearing a yellow dress (identical to her normal outfit in all but color). The general reaction is one of horror rather than admiration, from everyone except her future in-laws; in a cut line from the Chicago preview, even her fiance Lucas tells her to "take that dress and burn it." Gomez says she "look[s] like a crime scene."
  • Happily Married: Unusually for Addams Family material, this play Double-subverts it with its B-plot: Gomez and Morticia start off this way (par for the course), but Wednesday asks Gomez to keep her engagement to Lucas a secret from Morticia, leading to Poor Communication Kills moments throughout the play, and eventually a fallout between the two. Then, shortly before the final number, Gomez 1: confronts Morticia about Parental Hypocrisy from when they first got married, and 2: invites her on a trip to Paris (a Brick Joke from an earlier moment), and the two make up.
    • The implication at the end of the play is that both Mal and Alice and Wednesday and Lucas will end up the same.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: Wednesday sings about how love is changing her in "Pulled"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Wednesday manages to shoot an apple off Lucas' head with a crossbow. While blindfolded. Some productions justify this by having the ancestors help her.
  • Improv: In "One Normal Night" the last line to Fester's first verse can vary wildly from production to production. On the original Broadway cast album, it ends "Were you folks right for the mezzanine?". The script lists that version, as well as the alternate line "Was rehab right for Charlie Sheen?" Local productions usually replace this line with a pop-culture reference to whatever's current at the moment, provided it keeps the "een" rhyme scheme going - some adaptations break the "een" rhyme scheme to take pot-shots at an acceptable target - one adaption on Youtube has "was Donald Trump right for the Presidency?"
  • Invisible to Normals: The chorus of ancestral Addams ghosts can only be seen by the family. This leads to some amusing situations; for example, near the end Wednesday catches a bouquet thrown to her by the deceased bride ancestor, much to Lucas' confusion. note 
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: Gomez, when he first meets the Beinekes.
    Gomez: I go too far.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Both Gomez and Pugsley sing their own versions of "What If".
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter:
    • In the first act, Morticia expects Wednesday to follow in her footsteps by having "lots of boys" before settling down and getting married.
    • In the second act, Gomez reminds Mortica that she hid her engagement from her mother the same way that Wednesday hid her engagement from Morticia.
  • List Song: "Pulled" becomes this towards the end.
    "Puppy dogs with droopy faces,
    Unicorns with dancing mice,
    Sunrise in wide open spaces,
    Disney World, I'll go there twice!..."
  • Mortality Grey Area: Alluded to as Gomez says that he will invite every family member to his reunion: living, dead (via necromancy) and "undecided".
  • The Musical: Starring Max Bialystock and Lilith Sternin as Gomez and Morticia.
  • Musical Exposition: "When You're an Addams" introduces the family and its members to the audience.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Gomez has previously sung that there are "Two Things" and "Three Things" he would never do (lie to his wife, lie to his daughter, or tell the truth to either one.) Right when he's about to add "Four Things", Morticia stops him.
  • Mythology Gag: The Chicago tryouts contained a scene where the Addams recreate the TV show's famous intro, complete with the original theme song (snapping included). While the scene was cut out of subsequent productions, the theme song was kept for the overture.
  • Not So Similar: In "One Normal Night", while Wednesday and Lucas both want their respective parents to leave a good impression on each other, the details of their requests couldn't be more different.
    Lucas: Just be respectable, don't make an odd remark
    Wednesday: Keep undetectable our passion for the dark
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Alice Beineke's solo, "Waiting".
    • Morticia's response to overhearing Wednesday's words in "Pulled".
      "Puppy dogs? Disney World? She's in no state to entertain guests."
  • One Normal Night: One of the best-known songs from this play is the Trope Namer. In it, Wednesday and Lucas beg to their respective parents for... well, guess.
  • Opening Chorus: "When You're an Addams", which features every non-Beineke cast member.
  • Open Secret: The musical is officially based on the old New Yorker comic strip, but it blatantly draws inspiration from later adaptations, such as making Fester and Gomez brothers and having Wednesday be a young woman rather than a little girl.
  • Parental Love Song: "Happy Sad" by Gomez to Wednesday.
  • Potty Failure: Grandma wets herself during the dinner, but rather than being embarrassed about it, she just announces it to the whole table.
  • Punny Name: The Beineke parents, Mal and Alice, together are Malice.
  • Retcon: In The Musical, Wednesday is a young woman while Pugsley is barely in his teens. Additionally, Wednesday gets her looks from her dad. In the TV show Wednesday was the younger child and looked like Morticia.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • The different incarnations of the franchise have varied on whether Grandmama is Gomez's mother or Morticia's. The musical lampshades the issue by having both of them unsure whose mother she is, with the implication that she isn't related to either of them and is just mooching off them.
      Morticia: When your mother moved in, it was supposed to be for two weeks. The weeks turn into months. It's been 12 years now and she's still up there! Unwanted, mocked, tolerated! Smoking weed in the attic. Well, I'm not going to end up like your mother!
      Gomez: My mother? I thought she was your mother! Beat No, seriously.
    • Fester was originally Morticia's uncle in the comic strip and the original TV series. The musical takes a cue from the 90's movies by making him Gomez's brother (despite not sharing Gomez's Spanish mannerisms).
  • Rite of Passage: "Clandango," the original opening from the Chicago preview version, involves a family ritual centered around Wednesday's 18th birthday.
  • Set Switch Song: A few of Fester's songs are sung in front of the curtain, allowing the set to be changed for the next scene.
  • She Is All Grown Up: While now 18-year-old Wednesday still wears a variation of her usual dress, the story centers around the family reacting to her becoming independent when they meet her fiancé and his family.
  • The Singing Mute: Lurch sticks with his canon dialect of only grunting until the final number, when he sings his first ever words.
  • Speaking Like Totally Teen: Lucas tries to do it to look cool to Pugsley. It obviously fails.
    Lucas: Yo, it's tha Pugsta! Whaddup, lil' man?
    Pugsley: Are you trying to be cool?
    Lucas: Yeah...
  • Stepford Smiler: Alice Beineke keeps all her desires and frustrations bottled up and maintains a happy suburban housewife facade. She finally snaps with her showstopper number "Waiting" when she drinks Grandmama's potion.
  • Stereo Fibbing: Gomez, Wednesday, and Lucas all give different answers when Morticia asks what they're talking about, because they don't want to tell her that Wednesday and Lucas are engaged.
  • Suddenly Speaking: After uttering only incomprehensible moans and grunts for the entire show, Lurch sings perfectly clearly in the finale, "Move Toward the Darkness".
  • Summon Backup Dancers: The Ancestors serve as this.
    Alice: What's that one?
    Morticia: The dance routine.
  • Tempting Fate: "It's just a simple dinner. What could go wrong?"
  • Truth-Telling Session: The Act I finale, "Full Disclosure," is one of these gone horribly wrong.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In the tour version, Wednesday explicitly states that her plan to get the two families' blessing is that there is no plan.
  • Well, This Is Not That Trope: When Mal asks about The Game.
    Gomez: Did you ever play Charades?
    Mal: Yeah.
    Gomez: Well, it's nothing like that.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: Gomez and Morticia sing a song with this very title over Wednesday suddenly becoming normal.
  • White Sheep: Wednesday believes she's losing some of her dark impulses after falling in love with a normal boy, much to her family's dismay.
  • William Telling: Wednesday does this to Lucas, as a test of his love for her. He ups the ante by removing his improvised tie-blindfold and blindfolding her instead.
    Wednesday: What if I miss?
    Lucas: Then you'll be the last thing I ever see.
    Wednesday: That is so hot.
    • Fortunately, she doesn't.