Shut Up and Sing, Part MMMMDCLVIII

by Jay Nordlinger

By consensus, The Addams Family, the musical, is the worst Broadway show in the history of Broadway shows. Did I know that before I bought tickets? Um, no. I know it now. I was beguiled by the show’s advertising campaign, which is wonderful. And who doesn’t love The Addams Family, as a brand or phenomenon?

I could entertain you for an hour saying what a dog the musical is, providing detail after gory detail (and when I say “gory,” it’s not in an Addams Family way). One of the shames is that the performers are terrific. Some of the best Broadway performers of today are in this show. Bebe Neuwirth, slinking and tango-ing around in a clingy black dress? Fantastic.

But you can’t make chicken salad out of . . .

What I really want to talk about, here in the Corner, is politics. Because, being a Broadway show, The Addams Family has politics. And those politics, of course, are left-wing. The most ignorant and dislikable character in the show is — surprise! — a right-winger, from Ohio. But, before the show’s end, he sees the light: and drops his real-estate business and his nasty capitalist ways.

In the course of these awful hours, there’s a little shot about health care. There’s a shot about the 2000 presidential election and the Electoral College. And then there’s this strange little blast about homeschooling. The character who is Wednesday Addams’s love interest mentions to her three names: Romeo, Tristan, and I forget the other one. And Wednesday says (I paraphrase), “You’ll have to cut me some slack. I don’t know who those people are. I was homeschooled.”

That could be an allusion to the famous peculiarity of the Addams family — of that particular home. But I doubt it. I think it was a blast at homeschooling at large. And, as I say, this is very strange. Honestly, whom would you expect to know more: the typical product of America’s public schools or the typical homeschooled kid? My money, for sure, would be on the much-resented, probably church-going homeschooled kid.

And I wish Broadway people could know one thing: We know you’re left-wing. There’s no question about it. Don’t worry that someone might suspect that one of you is conservative. You don’t have to establish left-wing street cred. Just go ahead and sing, and act, and dance (no matter what the material you have to work with).

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