There’s going to be some spooky goings on at the New Wimbledon Theatre next week when a very ghoulish family takes up residence. The south London venue will play host to the musical production of The Addams Family and with an all-star cast, the show promises to be one not to be missed.
The beloved fiendish dynasty started life as a cartoon strip in The New Yorker before the 60s television series ensured worldwide fame for Gomez, Morticia and the gang. A 90s film franchise, which starred Anjelica Huston, Raúl Juliá, Christina Ricca and Christopher Lloyd, further guaranteed historical significance within the world of entertainment for the macabre family.
The musical version by Andrew Lippa scored huge success on Broadway in 2010, but this new production marks the musical’s UK premiere.
The show, which has already wowed audiences at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, brings with it a stellar cast, including YouTube sensation Carrie Hope Fletcher as a teenage Wednesday Addams. Carrie last trod the boards in Wimbledon as Truly Scrumptious in the touring production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang alongside Lee Mead.
The ultra talented young performer is joined by some veterans in the shape of Les Dennis, who plays crazy Uncle Fester and Samantha Womack, who fresh from leaving Eastenders takes on the role of Morticia and said, “I loved the TV series and I’ve watched the film with my children. The original series was quite intricate with its comedy timing and they had a fantastic body of actors”
Les Dennis explained, “I think what’s great about the show is that whenever you mention The Addams Family, everybody has got a connection to it, whether they’re nine or 99.”
We join the infamous family a few years later than any of their previous adventures and Wednesday is 18. She has fallen for a ‘normal’ boy, much to the despair of her father, Gomez (who will be played by Cameron Blakely). Gomez decides to keep the relationship secret from his beloved wife in order to protect the family group.
Samantha said, “It’s the first time an untruth has been told and that’s what rocks the family. It’s not so much that Wednesday is experimenting with a boy, it’s which boy.”
Samantha explains, “His mother wears yellow for God’s sake! It’s who he is that’s the problem and the family feels infiltrated. They have a safe dark world that works for them and letting the outside in is terrifying.”
I ask the pair if they feel any pressure taking on roles which theatregoers are almost bound to hold preconceptions about.
Les said, “Of course I’ve got the memory of Christopher Lloyd and Jackie Coogan, who was in the original TV series as Fester, but I’ve tried deliberately not to watch that and to just create my own Fester.”
Samantha continued, “I think for me it’s a mixed bag. I really like the idea that there’s an audience out there who have an anticipation because of the Morticias they’ve seen. That aids me in a way because it makes me excited about giving it to them.”
Both actors are having to drastically alter their physical appearance for their portrayals with Samantha proving brunettes do have more fun after all and Les removing his usually perfectly coiffured locks entirely, not just to make sure he looks the part, but also to raise money for charity.
Les said, “I thought about wearing a bald cap but decided I would shave it and so I’ve shaved it for Breast Cancer Now.”
There’s a real buzz about the show in theatreland and tickets for next week’s run in Wimbledon are likely to be difficult to come by.
Samantha said, “It’s comedic, it’s poignant and it’s incredibly complicated musically and choreographically but our director Matthew White has gently guided us towards something really beautiful, so we’re really lucky. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group with so many people who I’m in awe of everyday.”
Les added, “There’s a real sense of excitement about it because we feel there’s an alchemy in the room and everybody is loving it.”
Photos by Ed Baker