The Addams Family musical comes to The Lowry
PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 August 2017
Kate Houghton caught up with Les Dennis, Samantha Womack and Carrie Hope Fletcher before their Salford performances.
Wednesday Addams, the princess of darkness, is all grown up and has fallen in love…with a boy from the Midwest, who brings his conservative, ultra ‘normal’ parents to meet his love and her family…and, as Wednesday is well aware, if there is one thing that is not normal, it’s her family.
Such is the premise of this latest incarnation of the Addams Family, whose members Gomez and Morticia Addams, their children Wednesday and Pugsley, Uncle Fester and Grandmama, butler Lurch and disembodied hand Thing first came into being in comic strip form in 1938, before being translated into small screen form in 1964. Deliciously dark and joyfully macabre, the family could not be more different from the stereotype all-American family, and we love them for it.
Samantha Womack, last seen in a whole other kind of deeply dark role in Eastenders, takes on the part of Morticia and imbues her with an intense stillness, a departure from her previous roles. On her move from Eastenders to The Addams Family, she says:
‘Some transitions are easier than others. Moving from East Enders to South Pacific was incredibly difficult. This move hasn’t been so hard, but it has been a joy for me to have something to grab onto with both hands. I needed theatre; it’s so immediate and I needed it back to remind me of who I am and what I can do.
‘I was a massive fan of the Addams Family TV series; they weren’t as zany as the film characters, far more depicting themselves as a normal family. Before we even started rehearsals I saw Morticia as very still, but it’s hard to be still and still interesting! I had to develop a walk like a glide, almost supernatural. I dropped my voice and use an old-fashioned, round-vowelled American accent.’
Samantha has a beautifully powerful voice, reminding us of her proper thespian background, before her role in Eastenders looked set to typecast the actress into depressed, depressing torpor. Another actor whose musical credentials take us by surprise is Les Dennis, who plays the batty Uncle Fester with wit and style.
‘Everybody forgets I can sing,’ he says. ‘When you do a show like Family Fortunes for as long as I did people put you in a little box.’ Dennis has in fact performed in musicals including Chicago, Hairspray and Spamalot, all uniting his massive comic talent with his huge voice.
‘I wanted this part before I even read the script,’ he says. ‘I knew the TV show but only recently saw the films and have tried very hard not to be anything like Christopher Lloyd. I took Mavis’s voice and went up higher, then added an American accent.’
Dennis is someone you could definitely describe as a master of reinvention.
‘It’s been a conscious effort,’ he says, ‘if it scares me and is something different I say yes. To have longevity you have to keep reinventing.’
From a man aged 63, who has been prepared to shave his head entirely for the role and holds the audience captivated during his solo number, a quite heartbreaking song of love for the moon, this is wise advice and some that relative newcomer, ‘triple threat’ Carrie Hope Fletcher, who plays Wednesday Addams with feisty verve, might heed.
Having said that, judging by her career to date, this 24 year old thespian wunderkind needs little advice. Not only has she taken starring roles in musicals including Les Miserables and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and bagged a number of TV roles already, but she has over 631,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel ‘It’sWayPastMyBedTime’ and 422,000 followers on Instagram and has already published two books very successfully. Oh, and she’s also sister to Tom Fletcher, of McFly fame.
‘I was five when I had my first acting job. I don’t think I ever properly decided, it was just something I always wanted to do. I’m absolutely loving [The Addams Family]; it’s great fun and I’m having a blast playing this role. I was told when I played Eponine in Les Miserables that “the characters have to find you as much as you find them,” Here there’s a lot of me at 17 in love with a boy – and my brother was very much my own personal Pugsley!’
The show is by turns hilarious and melancholy and balances huge song and dance numbers with poignant solos; it’s definitely one for all the family and yes, you will be clicking your fingers in all the right places.
The Addams Family plays at The Lowry Theatre, Salford, from 29 August to 9 September.
0843 208 6000 | thelowry.com