music / “Water Pushes Sand”, Australian Art Orchestra, Ainslie Arts Centre, August 23. Reviewed by CLINTON WHITE.
Uncle Fester, Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma and Lurch all come to life in Stephen Pike’s slick and stylish production of Andrew Lippa’s funny, subversive musical, which slyly examines notions of normality.
When daughter, Wednesday confides in her father, Gomez that she’s in love with “normal” Lucas and implores Gomez not to tell Morticia until they meet Lucas’ family, the scene is set for a series of hilarious confrontations and revelations as both families wrestle with the differences in their lifestyles.
In a strong ensemble cast, Gordon Nicholson is superb as Gomez. His comedy timing throughout is brilliant and his songs superbly articulated, but he also manages to tug the heartstrings as he offers his daughter some fatherly advice in “Happy, Sad”. No less impressive is Lainie Hart, hilarious and spookily glamorous as Morticia. Tim Stiles gives a scene-stealing performance as Uncle Fester and his singing of the beautifully staged “The Moon and Me” is one of highlights of the show.
Rachel Thornton and Liam Downing as the young lovers, and Callum Doherty, deliciously revolting as Pugsley, all shine in quirky roles, as do Barbara Denham as Grandma and Nathan Rutups as Lurch. Joseph McGrail-Bateup and Deanna Gibbs, as the stitched-up parents of Lucas, both earn their fair share of laughs.
An excellent orchestra, attractive, uncluttered, setting, fine lighting and sound design, witty costumes and clever, quirky choreography, well executed by the hard-working ensemble of blank-faced zombies, all contribute to an entertaining and satisfying realisation of this fresh and engaging show.