The Addams Family

The Addams Family; 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $18-$25. Runaway Stage Productions at the 24th Street Theatre, 2791 24th Street; (916) 207-1226; Through January 25.
Rated 4.0

Without a doubt, what’s best about Runaway Stage’s musical tale of the creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky clan we know as the Addams family are the two lead actors. Mark Ettensohn’s Gomez is all at once tuneful, knowing, shamelessly kitschy and oh so self-ironic. He is fully matched by Carolyn Watling’s portrayal of Morticia, the slyly cool vampy vixen immortalized for television by that other Carolyn—Carolyn Jones. When these two are on stage, everything else fades away, which is how it’s possible to recognize a perfect match made in regions much lower than heaven.

Ettensohn and Watling are aided by an excellent Lurch (Jerry Gray), a fine Wednesday (Karissa Lee Carleton), Pugsley (Jerry Gray), Grandma (Karene Vocque), and a very good Uncle Fester (Chad Marquis). Andrew Lippa—of The Wild Party fame—has written some extremely funny songs, including “Crazier Than You,” a love song that would chill the cockles of Charles Addams’ warped little heart.

On the other hand, the storyline—by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice—is every bit as thin as a half-hour sitcom and twice as predictable. It’s only saved by the oddities inherent in the family itself and by the willingness of a nostalgic generation to snap in time to the familiar theme song.

Big kudos for a detailed and well-handled set with atmospheric props. Bob Baxter’s direction keeps things moving along at a good clip. Choreography by Darryl Strohl-De Herrera adds some nice touches to Gomez and Morticia’s traditional tango, and the RSP Orchestra, directed by Glenn Disney, remains a delight for community musical theater.

As an exercise in dark, fluffy fun, The Addams Family is a winner.