Whatever has happened to The Addams Family? What kind of world do we live in where bitter and twisted Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with a thoroughly ordinary young man? That’s the premise of Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa’s musical version of Charles Addams macabre comic strip of the 1930s. The rest of the plot follows Wednesday’s efforts to bring the two disparate families together resulting in a disastrous dinner, Gomez and Morticia, unlike their passionate 60’s TV counterparts experiencing a rocky patch in their marriage, visitations from the Addams Family ancestors, oh, and Uncle Fester in love with the moon. But, as mad as it is – it all adds up to a fantastic night’s entertainment of the highest quality.
Played out on a gloriously detailed, jewel-toned set with sumptuous costumes by Diego Pitarch, it benefits from a cast of supremely talented actors, stand out among them, Cameron Blakely as Gomez. Blakely is a knock out, a tornado of energy and passion, his comic timing supreme. Samantha Womack, is chillingly aloof as Morticia, YouTube sensation and best-selling author Carrie Hope Fletcher (Wednesday) is enviably talented, with an amazing set of pipes and hugely talented understudy Scott Paige is on in the role of Uncle Fester for an indisposed Les Dennis. Paige is utterly brilliant in the role, with a fabulous voice and well-honed comedic skills, it’s hard to imagine Dennis surpassing his performance. Strong support comes from the finest-voiced ensemble heard in years. The sound they make together raises the roof.
The book has been revised since its 2010 Broadway incarnation and the story remains slim, the characterisations broad, but the glorious decoration, some catchy tunes, the non-stop laughs and a master stroke of casting in every role, all add up to make an utterly irresistible night at the theatre.
Oh what a night it is as Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s West End and Broadway smash Jersey Boysarrives in Scotland’s capital. The rags to riches tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has always been a sure-fire winner with audiences and this first UK tour doesn’t disappoint.
Those coming to the tale expecting the run of the mill jukebox musical will be pleasantly surprised, while most may have heard the astonishing back catalogue of hits, many may be less familiar with the real-life antics of the quartet and the gritty reality provides a welcome foil to the showbiz glamour. This is so much more than a thinly drawn narrative stringing the band’s greatest hits together: the whole show has heart and guts and something to get your teeth into.
Though ever so slightly streamlined from the West End version, Klara Zieglerova’s simplistic but effective set is still very much in evidence, as is Sergio Trujillo’s iconic choreography, but what elevates this production is its cast. As Valli, Belgian actor/musician Tim Driesen is an absolute knock-out, he has the rare distinction of being able to sing at full power in every part of his range and oh boy what a range he has, going from baritone to eye-watering falsetto with ease, his New Jersey accent is also pitch-perfect. He is more than ably supported by Sam Ferriday (Bob Gaudio), Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi) and Stephen Webb (Tommy DeVito), each in possession of impressive vocal chops and the combination of all four provides many a hairs on the back of the neck moment. They rival and at times, vocally surpass the original West End cast. Matt Gillett’s Bob Crewe also provides some welcome light relief throughout the piece.
This is a crowd pleaser in every way: great songs, great story, great singers and actors and the perfect antidote to the chilly autumn blues. It’s one of the world’s best-loved musicals and it isn’t hard to see why. Do yourself a favour and get along to see it if it comes to a city near you.
Based on Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s worldwide smash hit musical, the Jersey Boys movie promises to fill in some of the finer detail that the multi-award-winning stage show can’t portray. The story of how little Frankie Castelluccio and his buddies from the New Jersey projects became world-wide music stars is the classic rags to riches tale. What is less known is the far from lily white background of the band and their frequent brushes with not only the law, but with the Mafia (oh and there’s Joe Pesci – yes that Joe Pesci, too).
Those familiar with the stage musical might be slightly disappointed that it is the back story that is key here, rather than the music, that said, it sticks faithfully to the show’s script and provides welcome detail that illustrates just how incredible it was that these apparent no-hopers actually made it. It lacks some of the irresistible immediacy that the stage show delivers: in the theatre it is nigh-on impossible to remain immune to the lure of the band, on the occasions I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it, the audience, to a man, have been on their feet dancing and singing their hearts out (something you can’t exactly do in a movie theatre).
The movie’s biggest strength is its cast; the performances are universally top-notch, John Lloyd Young, the original and Tony Award-winning Frankie Valli onstage, delivers both vocally and emotionally in his portrayal of Valli, he is ably supported by fellow Jersey Boys the Musical alumni Michael Lomenda (Nick Massi) and Erich Bergen (Bob Gaudio) and Boardwalk Empire’s Vincent Piazza who turns in a stellar performance as band founder and mini-mobster Tommy DeVito.
It is first and foremost a thoroughly entertaining biopic, filled with first-class performances, not a recreation of the musical but a welcome accompaniment to the wonderful stage show. If you’ve seen the show go along for the extra detail, if you’ve never seen the show make sure you catch it when it embarks on it’s first ever national tour this autumn.