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The Addams Family as presented by Carnew Musical Society

The Addams Family, as presented by Carnew Musical Society

Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 30th November, 2023

While most of us were under pressure to start putting up the Christmas decorations at the end of November, Carnew Musical Society were having problems shaking off Halloween, so deeply were they engrossed with decorating the front of house and the stage of St.Brigid’s hall with all manner of ghosts, ghouls, cobwebs and other morbid items and symbols. And what an awesome job they did, decking the halls with everything Addams Family, tantalizing the audiences even before the first familiar notes emanated from the orchestra, setting the scene and creating the perfect ambiance for a night of haunting humour. 

Such good attention to detail was a mark of Director, Michael Dunbar’s approach to the whole show, treating us to a fast-moving, well-rehearsed and very confident presentation. Design and artwork of the set were both very good, and a wide variety of excellent props helped to give the place a hammer-horror ambiance. The chair of truth, the rack for Pugsley, the furniture that ‘floated’ into position, carried by ghostly ancestors, the gateway to the family crypt, etc, were all well designed and effectively employed throughout the show. The director also used the limited stage space very effectively without it ever looking over crowded, while also putting great work into the characterization of his performers. Lurch being consistently a few beats behind everyone else with his slow-motion actions and steps was a lovely touch. Possibly a little more time was needed to tighten up the lighting plot, which despite being largely atmospheric and very creative, did have some scenes where principals missed the tight special areas and played in half-shadow.

As mentioned, the set was very attractive (in a haunted manner), and Stage Manager, Nigel May, and his team, did a good job of keeping things moving at a good pace. The quality of sound was good throughout, with a stage to pit balance that allowed all the vocals to be clearly heard. 

And what a good job, Musical Director, Conor McCarthy, had done in thoroughly preparing his chorus with fine harmonies and a robust sound. Principals were similarly capable vocally, and the orchestra, led by Conor on keyboards, gave a fine display of musicianship, with good tone and tempi throughout. 

As well as their good vocal quality, the Chorus were also very expressive as actors and reactors during their scenes, playing well to the focal point. They also had great energy and enthusiasm to cope with the imaginative and energetic routines from choreographer, Graham Finnerty, who showed great variety in his work, from the strong and strident opening to the stylized elegance of the Live Before We Die/Tango de Amor sequence. There was a lovely Pas-de-Deux between himself (as Fester) and a delightful female moon, beautifully danced, even if the song missed that little bit of magic that normally makes it a stand-out number. 

And speaking of Mr. Finnerty, he very much led by example with his fleet-of-foot abilities in the roll of a very dynamic Fester. He played the role as a street-wise and cunning character, manipulating situations to bring the story to a happy conclusion. His rapport with the 

audience was great and he sang and moved with effortless expression. This was a refreshing and very amusing interpretation of the role. 

John Young gave a solid and confident performance as Gomez Addams, suitably in awe of his dominant wife and equally in love with his sadistic daughter. He captured the sentiments of each scene most successfully, displaying good comedic timing and a confident singing voice. 

Erin Hogan, as Morticia, had a delightfully sinister quality as the dominatrix of her home and as the over-protective mother to a love-struck daughter. Her realization that Wednesday is just like her was very well played, as was her comical love/tolerance of Gomez. Death is Just Around The Corner was delivered with panache. 

A fiery and feisty performance was given by Ashley Murphy as Wednesday, suitably deadpan even in her protestations of love and resplendent in her delivery of Pulled In A New Direction. This was a very complete performance. 

An older than usual Pugsley was given strong character in the hands of John Donohoe, who, despite his age, got the unsettled, angst-ridden, problem child characteristics quite perfectly.

Mary Doran’s Grandma was aptly grotty and befuddled and she made the most of her comedic opportunities, while Lurch was played with towering menace and a good element of slow-motioned comedy by a very capable Alex Murphy, who also performed Move Towards The Darkness convincingly. 

Stephen Keegan cut a fine figure as Wednesday’s love interest, Lucas Beineke, full of charm and confidence and a mighty fine singing voice. This is a young man who’ll be capable of much more in the future. 

Rory Robinson, as his father, and brilliantly cast as Mal Beineke, was a right grumpy old git for most of the show, and then turned on the schmooze as he rediscovered his younger self in the final scenes. Beautifully played. 

As his long-suffering wife, Alice, Jennifer Byrne performed her poetry with nervous agitation and then exploded with drunk exuberance and comedy in the Full Disclosure scene, singing with passion and timing her reactions beautifully. 

There were many very capably captured cameo performances from several members of the chorus, adding their contribution to a generally very strong cast. 

Hand in hand with the very good dressing of the Front of House and the stage, the company were also very nicely dressed in appropriate and individual outfits, and thanks to excellent make-up, the chorus always looked delightfully deathly. The make-up of Fester, Lurch and Grandma were particularly noteworthy, and the various wigs and hair-pieces were all very well worn. In fact, the whole presentation of the show brought a colourful, flamboyant and 

hauntingly horrifying, but deliciously comedic end to the Halloween season, and I am indebted to Carnew Musical Society for their hospitality and their high level of entertainment.

Peter Kennedy, Gilbert Adjudicator

Some photos kindly shared by the society, Photographer: Eamonn Doran

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