Grand Opera House, York
Till Oct 31
Clicking fingers ready? Then let’s begin…
My first clue that this would be no ordinary evening at the theatre came outside the box office, where four gorgeous Gothic ghosts were learning about Star Wars from a small Darth Vader.
They weren’t, as I first assumed, part of the cast – they were audience members. And they weren’t alone.
As the near-capacity crowd poured in, we saw ghosts and zombies, big and small, singly and in groups, fantastically coiffed and made up – but almost all of them were women and children.
Gentlemen of York, you are letting your side down. At least throw a sheet over your head and cut out a couple of eyeholes.
Inventive and excellent
Halloween is, of course, the perfect time to stage a musical about the Addams Family, everyone’s favourite neighbourhood monsters.
The storyline is a simple one – how can Wednesday persuade her family that she really loves her all-American, clean-shaven Ohioan boyfriend? And, more to the point – how can they introduce his parents to her family?
The Pick Me Up Theatre Company has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in staging complex and challenging shows, and The Addams Family musical is no exception.
As always, the standard is very high. The teams behind costume, hair and makeup are to be heartily applauded for a resounding success, especially with the main members of the family, who look spookily similar to the characters we know and love.
Morticia (Hayley Bamford), Wednesday (Holly Surtees Smith), Lurch (Adam Laird) and Uncle Fester (Mark Hird) are particularly accurate in their mannerisms and characterisation, as well as their appearance.
The variety in costume and look of the chorus of dead ancestors is truly inventive.
Tears of laughter
This is a musical with a huge number of songs, and the whole cast tackles some unusual rhythms and demanding lyrics. Their diction, even when singing in chorus, is excellent.
I must make special mention of Pugsley (Frankie Bounds), who sustains some impressively high notes.
As always, the front of house staff were very friendly and helpful with my wheelchair. Level access is partway down King Street, but the box office staff need to be alerted when you arrive, so that they can unlock the door.
The accessible toilet next to this door is not overly generous in size, but is well-equipped and very clean. There is always an usher nearby if you need help.
Thankfully, the pavement on King Street is about to be improved, which should make the journey to and from the level access door much less bumpy and problematic.
It is always more difficult to play comedy than tragedy, but this cast is more than equal to the task. Katie Melia had me in tears of laughter more than once with her portrayal of the squeaking, slightly hysterical Alice Beinecke (Wednesday’s future mother-in-law).
Grandma (Susannah Baines) and Gomez (Darren Lumby) throw themselves into their roles with gusto, and deliver their lines with great timing.
Scenery designer Robert Readman is to be applauded for his clever use of additional furniture and backdrops converting the basic graveyard set into several other locations.
Stefani Lyons’ choreography is impressively varied, and special mention must be made of the talented band, under the direction of Barbara Chan.
There were a few small first-night fluffs and technical problems, but they didn’t spoil the evening. The audience was captivated.
Every musical number met with enthusiastic applause – and rightly so. Pick Me Up Theatre has done it again!