Hauntingly Good ‘Addams Family’ at Salem Theatre

By J.E.Ballantyne Jr.
SALEM, Ohio — If you are looking for a great way to celebrate Halloween, look no further than the Salem Community Theatre. The musical “The Addams Family,” by Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa, based on the single-panel cartoon characters of Charles Addams, is a delightful way to get your annual fill of spooky fun. The characters were made even more famous with the long-running television series of the same name starring John Astin.

In the Astin role of Gomez Addams, the family patriarch, is Dakotah Sommers. Sommers is a hit from his first appearance on stage with his high energy and clever wit not to mention his acting ability which seals the character into a solid performance throughout. Add to this the fact that Sommers had to suddenly move into the role with only two weeks rehearsal after original Gomez leaving the show due to illness. A job well done.

Morticia, his wife, played by SarahKinser provides that perfect amount of sexiness and dominance that puts Gomez into a dither at every turn. They both shine in musical numbers of “Trapped” and “Four Things” but Kinser has the audience in the palm of her hand with “Just Around the Corner.”

If there is any competition to the performance of Sommers, it comes from Ryan Stewart as Uncle Fester. In costume and make-up, he is almost an identical twin to Jackie Coogan who played the role in the TV series. His vocal ability, acting and comedy timing were spot-on all night and he seemed a natural for the looney relative who is in love with the moon.

Megan Shaffer gives a strong performance as Wednesday Addams, the only seemingly quasi-normal Addams who is in love with Lucas Beineke, played by Seth Levine. Levine handles the bewildered role of Lucas well as he becomes uncertain about being a part of this very off the wall family.

Beineke’s parents, Alice (Angelina Seeman) and Mal (Kaleb McFarland) show the most character change in the entire show. Alice, the definition of normal at the start, does a great turn at being honest in the Act I closer, “Full Disclosure.”

McFarland makes Mal a fun individual as he creates a real believable character type and carries it off with great consistency. Emily Scott makes a convincing boy in the character of Pugsley and does a great job with “What If.”

The larger than life Lurch (Dom Mediate) and creepy Grandma (Meg Wack) provide welcome appearances and take full advantage of their times on stage. The chorus who make up the Ancestors are well rehearsed and add a great touch to numerous scenes.

Director and musical director (he did both) Justin Steele can be proud of a sharp, fun production. Attention to detail is evident in both areas and staging is sharp and clean. Choreography by Sarah Kinser and Peyton Zamarelli is creative and imaginative. Steele also designed a great set that set the mood beautifully. The two- evel Addams house is spooky and cobwebby with tons of atmosphere poured in to it by the lighting design of Barry Hinchliffe, Jr. Costumes and make-up were also carried off very well.

If there was one major downer all night it was the use of canned music rather than a live orchestra or band. Part of the charm of live theater is live music. To remove that element removes part of the live theater experience. Plus there were numerous times that the balance between music and actors was too heavy on the music side.

If you are looking for a fun Halloween activity next weekend, visit the home of The Addams Family in Salem.

The Addams Family
Nov. 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 3 at 2:00 p.m.
Salem Community Theatre, 490 E. State St, Salem

Pictured at top: The cast of Salem Community Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family” includes (seated, from left) Emily Scott and Megan Shaffer, (middle, from left) Ryan Stewart, Sarah Kinser, Dakotah Sommers and Meg Wack, and (rear) Dom Mediate.

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