Actor/singer Douglas Sills began his Broadway career in the 90s essaying the role of infamous Sir Percy in Frank Wildhorn's musical of The Scarlet Pimpernel for which he won critical acclaim and a Tony Award nomination. Since then, he has been in, among many others, the revival of Little Shop of Horrors, Into the Woods, The Secret Garden, all on Broadway, as well as the rarely seen concert of the 1930s Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein Music in the Air with Kristin Chenoweth and a slew of musical roles in LA including Mack Sennett in Reprise's Mack and Mabel and Ravenal in the Hollywood Bowl's production of Showboat. He has just started the tour of The Addams Family starring as Gomez and will open at the Pantages Theatre on June 5. In our chat, he talks at length about playing Gomez, the changes since New York in the road version of Addams Family and chooses some of his favorite all-time roles.
Are you having fun playing Gomez Addams? Tell us in detail.
It's a little like being a grownup on a playground...when you're a little boy playing pirate ship, because Gomez is just incredibly excited and happy, he's vivacious and so bizarre...well, he's not bizarre to me, but to the world at large, he's kind of bizarre. That makes it just fantastically fun. Most of the result of how fun it is, is because of the cast. They're just so talented. Often times on a tour, you're relegated to a second or third tier actor, but it was very important to this producer to have the best.
To me the entire Addams family is bizarre. How do you play Gomez as distinct and different from the other relatives like say Uncle Fester?
(laughs) They're as different as two brothers can be. Fester is a solitary genius, a little like Peter Sellars
' character in Being There.He's a childlike character that every once in a while comes out with these genius remarks. Gomez is much more traditional. He's a man who's had all of his dreams come true. Every day he wakes up and can't believe how lucky he is with the most gorgeous bride in the world, who thinks exactly as he does aesthetically. He thinks that he's dreaming. He has a little money, and he's very proud of his heritage, and he can indulge his most delicious appetites for sword play or exotic pets or a beautiful home in the middle of Central Park. This guy has every guy's dream: he has the ultimate man cave. It's sort of a combination of the pirate king from Pirates of Penzance and Peter Griffin
from Family Guy. He's very childlike and very happy.
I know there was controversy with the show on Broadway with its stars (Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth). Is the tour that you're doing the same or have there been changes since New York?
Like the TV series, it's very commercial with comedy first and foremost. It's pretty clever, though: the lyrics and the jokes are wonderfully sophisticated, in the way Seinfeld perhaps was. The current show is very different from Broadway. The New York show was not successful to the tastes of the creative staff or the actors. I don't think they reached their potential. I think everybody would agree with that. With a chance to take another crack at the show, everybody agreed that they wanted to go in and work on it. They did that, and the show is now 40-50% different. New songs. Where songs were eliminated, there are songs that are completely new. They're not just changed. There's also a very significant new plotline. That lends itself to new dialogue. The show has a very different feel to it. Nathan (Lane) and I are not similar types. We haven't approached the role similarly, and I had the great luxury of knowing roughly what he did... and trying something different.