The Addams Family: Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival

The Addams Family: Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival

It’s open air theatre season and Everyman has returned with their summer 2023 Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival. Saoirse O’Connor-Tyrrell was to see the Festival kick off with a musical production of The Addams Family.

Da Da Da Dum… Click, Click.

Charles Addams’ kooky clan has captivated audiences in almost every iteration, and the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival’s musical summer production of The Addams Family is no different.

And yes, it is a musical, as some members of the audience around me were amused to discover in the opening number.

The plot revolves around the first meeting of two families, The Addams and the Beinekes, and a clash of cultures. Wednesday Addams has a boyfriend, and all she wants is one normal night where she and her new beau Lucas can announce that they’re getting married. Safe to say, normality is not on the cards.

As always, the Everyman Theatre Company delivers a joyful performance, and special credit must go to both the cast and creative team for dealing with a thirteenth-hour injury that’s put Uncle Fester (a mischievous Paul Williams) in a wheelchair.

Rhosyn Boyce-Jones is a different Wednesday than audiences may be used to. There are shades of the deadpan performance given by Jenna Ortega and Christina Ricci, but you could easily see this Wednesday sneaking out of the family home in Central Park to hang out behind the bar at CBGB. A goth in skulled fishnets, there’s something almost kittenish in her scenes with Mitchell Attley’s amiable Lucas, even when she’s aiming a crossbow at his head.

In a way though, I looked forward more to the interactions between Wednesday and her little brother Pugsley (a scene-stealing Alfie Morwood), exemplified in Pulled, where Morwood’s joyous squeals of pain just add to Boyce-Jones’ wicked vocals, truly summing up this wonderfully twisted pair of siblings.

But in a year where Wednesday’s star has risen higher than ever before, in this production, it’s Gomez Addams who steals the stage.

Caught between the two women in his life, his wife and his daughter, Michael Taylor Moran portrays the wonderfully over-the-top Addams Patriarch with aplomb and flourish (rapier included). But it’s his delivery of Happy/Sad, where Gomez reconciles his conflicting sadness at losing his little girl with the joy of seeing her grown-up and happy, that reduced me to tears.

Holly Thompson’s scintillating Morticia brings glamour to the graveyard, and her comic timing, particularly in the up-beat number about death Just around the Corner, keeps the audience wrapped around her little finger. Linda Vickers is a game Grandma Addams (though exactly whose Mother is she?) Fair warning to any silver foxes in the crowd, she’s on the hunt, and you might catch her eye.

The Addams are supported by a spectacularly talented ensemble of Ancestors kept from their crypt by Fester until Love triumphs, who dance, prance and gallivant around the audience (look out for the Bride and her bouquet) and the very able Mal and Alice Beineke played by Joe Green and Laura Hayward who get some of the best lines and laughs of the show.

Hayward as the inebriated Alice is pure comic gold, and it’s lovely to watch her grow in confidence guided by Morticia. Green, who has the tough job of acting the straight man amongst the madness, manages to completely convince as a boring Ohioan with a wild man at heart and watching him fall back in love with his wife with just a raise of an eyebrow or a wobble of a lip is as heart-jerking as it is impressive.

It’s rare in a review to take a moment to suggest you get a programme, and while you won’t find much past a cast list and production photos, the fascinating history of the Everyman Company is well worth it (even including a glowing review by Ted Hughes!).

As the skies darkened and in-true Addams Family fashion, the moths descended over the tombstones, watching the finale felt truly magical—or at least mysterious and spooky.

The Cardiff Open Air Festival runs throughout July, details are available on the Festival website.