NEW YORK (Reuters) - A big-budget Broadway musical adaptation of the classic celebration of eccentricity and morbidity, "The Addams Family," was panned by critics on Friday as bland and boring.
The production, which opened on Thursday, stars Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. It derives from Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons that also inspired the 1960s television series and two 1990s movies.
"You'll laugh a lot, though never during the unmemorable songs, which are supposed to be funny but aren't," said The Wall Street Journal. "You're more than likely to spend a considerable part of the evening wondering how much the set cost."
Critics said an accomplished cast could not rescue generic, bland musical numbers and predictable jokes.
Lane has performed in a string of Broadway hits but is perhaps best known for his starring role as Max Bialystock in the musical "The Producers."
Neuwirth starred in the television series "Cheers" which ran from 1982 to 1993 and occasionally appeared on its spinoff "Frasier."
The New York Times said: "Being in this genuinely ghastly musical ... must feel like going to a Halloween party in a strait-jacket or a suit of armor.
"Why, you can barely move, and a strangled voice inside you keeps gasping, 'He-e-e-lp! Get me out of here!'"
Critics also scorned the show's attempts to develop themes of love and acceptance centered around Wednesday Addams, rather than celebrating the family's freaky frolics.
"Mostly, 'Addams' Just Festers," said the New York Daily News, punning on the name of Uncle Fester, one of the family's oddball members.
Lane and Neuwirth managed to escape most of the critics' brickbats. USA Today said Lane's performance was the best reason to see the show.
"The Addams Family" originally appeared as a series of single panel cartoons by American Charles Addams published from 1938. Addams died in 1988.
Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Alan Elsner