Reviews: “The Addams Family” in Rohnert Park; “Count Dracula” in Monte Rio

The credits for the Spreckels Theater Company production of The Addams Family, running now through October 28, notes that the musical is “based on characters created by Charles Addams.” It is not a recreation of the beloved 1960’s sitcom. It is not an adaptation of the visually inventive films of the ‘90’s. At the insistence of the Charles Addams Foundation, who retain control of all things Addams, the source material for the musical had to be the cartoons Addams published for fifty years in the New Yorker.

The 2010 Broadway musical by Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa had a moderately successful run before becoming a theatrical Halloween season staple. It banks on the goodwill and fond memories of the generations raised with the reruns or the films and then goes in a completely different direction.

Emma LeFever

Uncle Fester (Erik Weiss) narrates the show and lets the audience know it’s gonna be a story about love. A teenage Wednesday Addams (Emma LeFever) is worried about bringing her “normal” boyfriend/fiancée Lucas (Cooper Bennett) and his straight-laced, midwestern parents (Larry Williams, Morgan Harrington) home to meet her unconventional family. Wednesday lets her father Gomez (Peter Downey) in on her marriage plans but gets him to agree to not reveal her intentions to her mother Morticia (Serena Elize Flores) till an announcement is made at dinner. Things don’t go as planned.

It’s a stock plot dressed up with the Addams characters though the characters bear little resemblance to their previous incarnations.  Downey comes closest with a very nice paternal take on Gomez while Flores’ voluptuous Morticia lacks the character’s dark, funereal tone.

The score is bouncy and unmemorable, but the cast delivers it well. Prepare to be knocked out of your seat when Pugsley (Mario Herrera) sings “What If” his sister isn’t around anymore.

Ignore the trick the show’s creators play with The Addams Family characters and you’ll enjoy a family-friendly Halloween treat.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

‘The Addams Family’ runs through Oct. 28 at Spreckels Performing Arts Center. 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Fri. – Sat., 8 pm; Sun., 2 pm, Thurs, Oct. 25; 7 pm.$18–$36. 707.588.3400. spreckelsonline.com

Photos by Jeff Thomas

An edited version of this review originally appeared in the North Bay Bohemian.

In order for a show like Count Dracula – running now in Monte Rio through October 27 – to work, it has to be either played straight or as total camp. Playwright Ted Tiller’s 1971 version of the Bram Stoker novel under the direction of Nadja Masura tries to do both and the mix just doesn’t work.  Tiller also seems to have worked under the assumption that no one had ever heard vampire lore before and inserted lengthy bits of deadly, dull exposition that makes the show run an hour longer than it should.

A good set, some nice effects, and a game cast can’t mask the un-dead weight of a leaden script.

Rating (out of 5): ★★

‘Count Dracula’ runs through Oct. 27 at the Russian River Hall, 20347 Hwy. 116, Monte Rio. Fri. – Sat., 8pm; Sun, 3pm. $15–$50. 707.524.8739. curtaincallrussianriver.com.

An edited version of this review originally appeared in the North Bay Bohemian.

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