Macabre Addams Family's a scream

As the popular theme song goes, they are creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky - and that is why audiences adore the absurdly macabre Addams family.

Created by 20th-century American cartoonist Charles Addams, Gomez and Morticia Addams are a couple so in love that death would not part them, with two malicious and murderous children Wednesday and Pugsley, and domestic help that includes a disembodied hand named Thing and a Frankenstein-like butler named Lurch.

They and their gloom-and-doomloving relatives spawned a number of TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s, and several movies and an animated series in the 1980s and 1990s. All were famous for Gothic gags and a finger-snapping earworm of a theme song that starts this touring production of the Broadway musical.

The show is tailor-made for fans. Sets change rapidly, showing off the Addams estate from torture chamber to bedroom, complete with a monster under the bed.

Many old favourite characters appear. The short and shaggy Cousin Itt romances the giant tassels holding the stage curtains closed, while paunchy, panda-eyed Uncle Fester (Shaun Rice) runs around like a creepy Cupid attempting to give his niece Wednesday (Jennifer Fogarty) a happy ending to her romance.

Horrors, the princess of darkness is in love with an all-American male named Lucas Beineke (Bryan Welnicki). Little brother Pugsley (Jeremy Todd Shinder, played on alternate nights by Connor Barth) is depressed that his sister no longer has time to torture him, while Gomez (Jesse Sharp) tries to keep Morticia (Keleen Snowgren) from finding out the truth as he assesses Lucas' fitness for the family.

Meanwhile Lucas' Ohio-bred, salt- of-the-earth parents, Mal (Mark Poppleton) and Alice (Blair Anderson), turn up for dinner, setting the stage for a classic clash of cultures and, incidentally, a few clashing rapiers.

This is not a show for very young children, in spite of some rather nice special effects involving smoky dry ice, giant puppets and explosions. This musical's appeal is more cerebral than visual, lying in quick repartee and black humour. Even the traditional pre-show warning against the use of cellphones becomes: "The use of nooses, thumbscrews, guillotines and other torture devices is not permitted during the show, but strongly encouraged during intermission."

The jokes are not all dark, they come in 50 shades of grey, for example, Wednesday's use of sharp objects and blindfolds to cement her commitment to Lucas.

The songs composed and worded by Andrew Lippa are hummable, with Fogarty's rendition of Pulled in the first act a tongue-in-cheek inversion of the typical Disney princess love song that sets the tone for the rest of the show.

Fogarty pulls off an admirable poker face and Snowgren should receive an award for her ability to sing and tango in a dress moulded to the hips and "cut to Venezuela".

However, the men stole the show on the opening night. Sharp as Gomez was the backbone as a fond father and besotted husband torn between the women in his life and Shinder's torture-loving pre-teen Pugsley were both endearing and eerie to watch. Look out also for Dan Olson as Lurch, whose jerky silent comedy speedily smoothens out to add a surprising touch to the finale.

They really are a scream, this Addams family.

Book it

The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy

Where: Festive Grand Theatre, Resorts World Sentosa

When: Until July 28, Tuesdays to Fridays, 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 2 and 8pm

Admission: $55 to $175 from Sistic (go to or call 6348-5555)