How spooky the Rotorua Musical Theatre's The Addams Family production launch coincided with Halloween, but forget ghostly tricks, this show's a master treat.

Television here was barely out of nappies when The Addams Family screened, now the relative new (circa 2010) musical version has come to roost on the Casa Blanca stage like a bloodthirsty bird of prey.

How such a large cast fits onto it is any apparition's guess but they do, working seamlessly around a house of horrors set so authentic this reviewer was convinced it was an import.

Not so, it's been designed and constructed by a home-grown team, show director Sally Smyth included.


Creepy puppets (who doesn't find dismembered hands flapping from under a bed or pulled along, puppy-like creepy?) are also Rotorua Musical Theatre (RMT) members' creations. Weta Workshop take note.

This is Smyth's directorial debut; a local production regular, she's coaxed freakishness by the fistful from her cast and they've rewarded her, and their audience, with bucketloads of comic horror.

Principal players are two families: the middle-class Jewish Bienekes, bewildered to find themselves enmeshed in an Addams-dominated world spinning on its macabre axis.

The versatile Alasdair Hay as Addams' patriarch, Gomez, is the perfect foil for on-stage wife Morticia (Augusta Smith), who is scarily natural in the role.

Playing the Bieneke seniors, Alice and Mal (Nanu Turner-Sarah and Mark Reid) are exactly as original writer, cartoonist Charles Addams (yes, another Addams) intended.

John McNaughton, the moon-loving Fester, is another made for his part. Equally convincing is Susan Wenborn, the incontinent, befuddled grandma.

There's predictable mayhem when the Bieneke's son Lucas (Anthony Estrada) falls for the crossbow-touting Wednesday Addams (Brogan Hastie).

Of all the weirdos this show produces, the star performer prize goes to Steve Holmes; his guttural growls as towering zombie butler, Lurch, beggar belief.

So much talent in one small space is confirmation musical theatre remains one of this city's true entertainment gems.

WHAT: The Addams Family
WHERE: Casa Blanca Theatre
WHEN: Until November 12