Makes our Sadness Vanish

By Iride Aparicio

Photos by: Joyce Goldschmid

PALO ALTO, CA. – If the sight of haunting ghosts scares you, visiting a cemetery at midnight will give you a panic attack and your arachnophobia will make you quiver at the sight of a giant tarantula crawling slowly on somebody’s  back, you have to see THE ADDAMS FAMILY. This show will convert all your fears into laughter.

The new musical, being presented by Palo Alto Players from April 24th to May l0th,  shows the audience how to convert everything that looks frightful to fun, including a future “tour” through the Parisian sewers. But to enjoy the show and understand its humor, you need to be familiar with  the Addams family.

Its members are: Gomez, the father, (who has a long line of Hispanic ancestors who settled in what is now New York’s Central Park when it was a wilderness. After the family flourish, a house was built, where a great Spanish oak is now planted to protect the graves and keep them in the shadow) Morticia, is his wife, and they have two children: Wednesday, an 18 years old girl, and Pugsley, a little boy.  There is also Uncle Fester, (Gomez’ brother) who is a sweet ghoul, and Grandma, Morticia’s mother, who tinkers with magic and potions.  Lurch, is their butler, He looks like Frankenstein, and moves slowly. The rest of the Addams’ ancestors are ghosts.

JOEY MCDANIEL as Fester (center) surrounded by his ancestors
      JOEY MCDANIEL as Fester (center) surrounded by his ancestors

The Addams’ family members came to life as  the cartoon’s drawings of cartoonist CHARLES ADDAMS. His first cartoon, published in The New Yorker on April 6th l938, shows two of them: A beautiful woman  (Morticia) with long black hair, wearing a black night gown, and a very large man (Later named Lurch because of the way he moves) standing next to each other at the bottom of the stairway of a dilapidated Victorian  house covered in cobwebs, dead and crawling creatures, and dust. The couple are looking at a vacuum cleaner held in the hands of a salesman who pitches his machine by telling them: Vibrationless, noiseless and a great time and back saver. No well-appointed home should be without it”

In l940, Fester, a toothless grinning ghoul was added to the family as Gomez’ brother, and in l944 Charles Addams expanded his “cartoon’s family” by adding two children: Wednesday and Pugsley and a Grandma.


As the popularity of the cartoon’s characters began to grow, in 1963 the cartoon became a television series and a cultural phenomenon. Since then the Addams family’s cartoons have been published in numerous languages worldwide, inspired a motion picture and now a Broadway Musical.

With book by MARSHALL BRICKMAN  and RICK ELICE and lively music and creative Lyrics by ANDREW LIPPA, “THE ADDAMS FAMILY”  musical is fun for the whole family.

In an appropriate setting,for these characters, the show opens in the family’s graveyard on the night when the family celebrates their “Life and Death” yearly ritual, perhaps their most important, because it allows them to connect their past, with their future, and present. Tonight’s dinner, however,  will be even more important, because, without her parents knowing it, Wednesday (CATHERINNE GLORIA) is going to announce to her parents her engagement with Lucas Baineke (ADAM COTUGNO) and had invited him and his parents Mal  (KENNAN BLEHM and his wife Alice (JEN WHEATONFOX) to dinner for the occasion.

          The Beinekes JEN WHEATONFOX and KENNA BLEHM

Knowing that her family is “quirky,” and have strange “family traditions” that may scare her fiancée, Wednesday nicely asks her parents to act “real normal” on that night singing: One normal night, that’s all I want, that’s all I need from you. You must admit we’re not what people calls “Laid Back” so can’t we muse a bit and lose the basic black (that she and her mother wear at all times) Whoa, one normal night with normal people. Whaddaya say? Nobody replies, except Grandma who asks her. “Define normal.”

Fester (McDANIEL) who is the only member of the family who knows what Wednesday is going to do on that night, lets all his ancestors remain out of their graves on that night in case he needs their help. Trying to look inconspicuous, all the ghosts pose as pictures.  

The dinner is going alright until Morticia suggest to play “the game” which is another of their traditions for the night. Called “Full Disclosure” the game is exactly that. After everybody takes a zip of wine from the Sacred cup, they must reveals “something” to the group that they have never told anybody before. What happens during the game almost destroys the engagement  of Wednesday’s and the marriage of her parents and her future parents-in-law as chaos engulfs the families. But with the help of Fester, magic, and the help of  his ghostly ancestors, the things that were revealed serve a purpose to the every member of the family and keep the audience laughing. Because in spite of looking “different” from us, Gomez and Morticia, are a “normal family". As husband and wife, they fight, break their promises to Wednesday GLORIA and fiancée (COTUGNOeach other, have problems, care for the happiness of their "little girl" (Wednesday (GLORIA) and fiancée (COTUGNO) picture left) and are trying to protect them because they are both very young. We ought to remember that the ADDAMS are above all a family, and that as a family they dearly  love each other.

In her direction of the work, Director and choreographer JANIE SCOTT gave the audience realistic performances from all the actors on the Opening Night. Those we need to mention, however, are Gomez (SANTANA) specially for his antics and for his dancing of the “Tango de Amor” with Morticia (KRUSE CRAIG) which was a riot. Uncle Fester (McDANIEL) for his many "silly" songs such as "the Moon and Me,"and his delightful portrait of a ghoul. So natural, and yet so funny. Another excellent characterization that night was the performance of Alice (WHEATONFOX) rhyming everything, and the performance of Pugsley, (JERGOVIC) as the brat brother that causes havoc for everybody.

With tuneful music and creative Lyrics (LIPPA) and a story that keep us laughing all night, THE ADDAMS FAMILY is a delightful show for everyone. Yet, there is an importan message for us to learn, mixed with all that laughter. It is that being honest with each other is  the only way to grow together as a family.

THE ADAMS FAMILY will continue playing until MAY lOth at Palo Alto Players. For online tickets go to or buy them by phone at 650 329-0891