Hundreds of years ago, the Addams family ancestors came from the old country and settled on a plot of land in what is now New York’s Central Park. This was, of course, long before it was a park, when it was still wilderness and garbage. The family flourished for many generations, and eventually, a huge house was built where a great Spanish oak, the Addams Family Tree, had been planted to protect the ancestral graves from such annoyances as sunlight and tourists. As the curtain rises (“Overture”), the last dead leaf of autumn falls from the Family Tree, and all is right with the morbid, macabre world of Gomez, Morticia, Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley and Lurch. They’ve gathered – where else? – in the family graveyard, to celebrate life and death in a yearly ritual (“When You’re An Addams”) to connect with their past and ensure their future. They seem at peace, not just with each other and their inimitable, unchanging Addams-ness, but with their dead ancestors, too – who emerge from their graves on this night each year to join in this celebration of continuity.
At the end of the ritual, Fester blocks the ancestors’ return to their graves. Those unchanging Addams family values are about to be tested. Fester enlists their help to set things right (“Fester’s Manifesto”), just in case a new family secret goes terribly wrong. What’s the secret? Wednesday Addams, that irresistible bundle of malice, has grown up and found love. So what’s the problem? The young man, Lucas Beineke, is from Ohio, and his parents are coming to dinner to meet the family. Two different worlds are about to collide. Will love triumph, or will everyone go home vaguely depressed? Gomez and Morticia are understandably leery. Wednesday is their baby, even if she is eighteen (“Wednesday’s Growing Up”). Their doubts bloom into actual terror (“Trapped”) when they eavesdrop on Wednesday, who, in the midst of her afternoon play-date with Pugsley, refuses to torture her brother and involuntarily bursts into song (“Pulled”) – extolling all things bright and beautiful as love pulls her in an entirely new, and cheerful, direction. Like any parents faced with a child in terrible trouble, Gomez and Morticia wonder, “Where did we go wrong?” Wednesday begs her parents not to cancel the dinner, and exhorts the entire family to act as ‘normal’ as possible when Lucas and his parents arrive (“One Normal Night”). She loves her family just the way they are, but they clearly fall outside the realm of what the Middle-American Beinekes are used to, and Wednesday’s afraid that, if his parents don’t approve of her, they’ll take Lucas back to Ohio, and she’ll never see him again. Like any unconditionally loving family, the Addams’ promise to do their best to oblige, while, lost somewhere in Central Park, young Lucas asks his parents to resist any judgments and all catastrophic conflicts, so both families can enjoy one normal night (“But Love Reprise 1&2”). Gomez and Morticia do their best to be good hosts to the Beineckes, and when Gomez takes Mal to his torture chamber in the basement to show him around, Morticia gives Alice a tour of the house, culminating in a discussion of their marriages (“Secrets”). In yet another part of the house, Pugsley, having witnessed Wednesday and Lucas making out, worries that he’s lost his best friend to her new, disgustingly sunny disposition (“What If”). Plotting to break up the happy couple, Pugsley steals a volatile potion from Grandma’s private stash – Acrimonium – one swig of which is guaranteed to bring out the dark side in anyone who drinks it.
After what is likely a less-than- normal meal, Wednesday quiets the table for Lucas’ surprise announcement. But Gomez reminds Wednesday that, before anything else happens, it’s time for the traditional Addams family game, “Full Disclosure” – during which everyone takes a sip from a sacred chalice and reveals something they’ve never told anyone (“Full Disclosure”). Gomez uses his Disclosure to try, again in vain, to calm Morticia. Fester announces that he’s in the throes of a most unlikely love – with the moon. When it’s Wednesday’s turn, Pugsley seizes his chance! He secretly pours the Acrimonium potion in the chalice and passes it to his sister. But his plan to awaken the dark side in Wednesday goes horribly wrong when Alice, coughing, intercepts the chalice and downs the potion instead. A whole new Alice, very dark and uninhibited, is born. The powerful poison prompts her to reveal the long-buried problems with her marriage (“Waiting”), humiliating Mal, who,fed up with all the weird and creepy events of the evening, makes to leave, with Alice and Lucas in tow. Wednesday blurts out the news: “Lucas and I are getting married!” Chaos engulfs both families like a tidal wave (“Full Disclosure Part 2”), and Fester, ever-helpful, urges the Family Ancestors to work some magic – whipping up a sudden, terrible storm and trapping the Beinekes with the Addams family for the night.