Charles Addams' cartoon creations are still creepy and kooky as described in the lyrics of their 1960s sitcom. They remain fond of the color black, instruments of torture, bumps in the night and screams of terror.
During the staged musical version of "The Addams Family," if you listen closely, you might even hear their spirits screaming "Get us out of this show."
For the quirky family, which made its debut in New Yorker magazine, deserves better than this creaking endeavor of bare-bones plot, tired jokes and forgettable tunes.
The touring version of the show, which will close on Broadway at the end of the year, is in Orlando until Sunday.
Before heading out on the road, the show underwent some reconstructive work — beefing up the storyline for family leaders Gomez and Morticia, adding and dropping songs. Perhaps as a result, the show feels like it has been stitched together like some half-baked Frankenstein's monster.
It's not all gloom and doom: The show is a marvel to look at. The costumes and set, both designed by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott, are inventive and fun — although the scariest part of the show might well be worrying Morticia will suffer a wardrobe malfunction in a plunging top Gomez describes as "cut down to Venezuela."
The Addams family homestead, graveyard and all, is cleverly and charmingly depicted with panels that rise and fall to make walls, and a draping curtain that changes position to spotlight different characters and scenes.
But cleverness and charm are sadly lacking in the threadbare tale of teen daughter Wednesday bringing home an unsuitable boyfriend (he's normal) and the family's reaction.
This is a show that still thinks jokes about Florida being home to retirees are funny, or that a line like "Wednesday's growing up. She'll be Thursday before you know it!" is the height of wit.
Not that the actors don't try to rise above. Douglas Sills, with a ridiculous fake Spanish accent, is fun to watch and exudes the charisma that makes Gomez so endearing. Blake Hammond's Uncle Fester's childlike simplicity and big, round face are a winning combination.
But Cortney Wolfson and Brian Justin Crum as Wednesday and her boyfriend share no chemistry, a fatal flaw considering the story hangs on the idea they are hopelessly in love. Wednesday as a teenager is shrill, and Crum's character bland.
As Morticia, Sara Gettelfinger is blessed with the most tuneful song, "Just Around the Corner," but seems overshadowed by the more demonstrative characters around her.
Oh, there are a few genuinely funny moments — political jabs and a line about "Death of a Salesman" — but not enough to breathe life into this mishmash.
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'The Addams Family'
•What: Touring version of the Broadway musical, presented by Florida Theatrical Association
•When: 8 p.m. today-Friday, Nov. 4; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.
•Where: Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston St., Orlando
•Online: BroadwayOrlando.comCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times