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April 9, 2010

TT: I've seen that show before

I have lukewarm feelings about both of the Broadway shows I reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal drama column, The Addams Family and Lend Me a Tenor. Here's an excerpt.

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If you're a New Yorker with children, or if you're bringing the family to Manhattan this summer, you'll have to go to "The Addams Family." It won't kill you. You'll laugh a lot, though never during the unmemorable songs, which are supposed to be funny but aren't. You're more than likely to spend a considerable part of the evening wondering how much the set cost. And as you depart the theater, you'll probably catch yourself wondering whether it was really, truly worth it to take your kids to a goodish musical whose tickets are so expensive that you can buy an iPad for less than the price of four orchestra seats....

If you liked the sitcom and/or the movies, you'll know just what you're going to get, right down to the ba-da-da-DUMP (snap, snap) TV-show themelet with which Mr. Lippa's otherwise anonymous-sounding score begins. The plot, in which young Wednesday Addams (Krysta Rodriguez) falls for a non-creepy boy from Ohio (Wesley Taylor), is as bland as canned tomato soup, and Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth play Gomez and Morticia Addams right down the center (he's zany, she's haughty)....

Ken Ludwig writes comfy, low-stakes farces in which no one is embarrassed--at least not for long--and all of the characters live happily ever after. "Lend Me a Tenor," last seen on Broadway in 1990, is the quintessential example of Mr. Ludwig's easygoing comic approach, a farce about a production of Verdi's "Otello" whose star (here played by Anthony LaPaglia) fails to show up for opening night. The plot is properly labyrinthine, the jokes reasonably clever, but never once do you you thrill with sadistic glee as a pompous twit strolls heedlessly toward his well-deserved rendezvous with humiliation. If that's what you expect from a farce--and I do--you'll find "Lend Me a Tenor" to be amiable but more then a few teeth short. If not, you'll like it just fine.

Stanley Tucci is making his Broadway debut as a stage director with this revival. His inexperience shows: The staging, for all its coarsely slapsticky liveliness, isn't as taut as it ought to be...

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Read the whole thing here.

Posted April 9, 2010 12:00 AM

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