Tony-Nominee Douglas Sills Stops By WHY I'LL NEVER MAKE IT Podcast
Tony Nominee Douglas Sills (SCARLET PIMPERNEL, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) reunites with host Patrick Oliver Jones to talk about their time together on THE ADDAMS FAMILY National Tour as well as the Broadway debut that made him a highly sought-after leading man. But that performance as Percy Blakeney almost never happened.
Leading up to SCARLET PIMPERNEL, Sills had already been a professional actor for 20 years. But he wasn't getting the opportunities he wanted and just wasn't content. "If these were the nature of the roles I was gonna have for the next twenty years, I wanted to move on." He chose to go back to school and get a law degree.
But through a series of fortunate, random events, Sills recounts what led to his inevitable audition for PIMPERNEL and what kept him going through its many incarnations, both on Broadway and the national tour. After leaving the show for the last time, though, he bucked the idea of being so closely identified and pigeon-holed by that one role. But now, he looks back with fondness and gratitude for that career-defining opportunity.
Sills talks about leadership within a company and how backstage conditions and cast dynamics play a vital role in onstage connection. That is especially true for tours. From sharing the stage with Audra McDonald in THE SECRET GARDEN to his patriarchal role as Gomez Addams, Sills saw firsthand that when a cast and crew feel heard and taken care of, that it can help the success of a show both creatively and financially.
That goes for plays as well as musicals. Whether it's Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING or playing legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick in MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS, Sills cherishes the camaraderie of a great cast and brings that energy onto the stage. Because though he relishes the turn of a phrase or melodic line in musicals, he also enjoys the less strenuous vocal demands of plays. In the Broadway production of LIVING ON LOVE, for example, Renee Fleming had to carry both acting and some singing, whereas he could simply focus on the comedic farce of his role as aging conductor.
In his own life and career, Sills says success is truly found in letting go of criticism and what others expect you to be. Self-expectation is particularly difficult. "It's a giant beast that isn't grown out of something good." Whether in the audition room or on the stage, he still battles it and has to keep reminding himself to let those distractions go and just focus on the moment at hand. That is where joy and happiness can be found.
Listen to the episode here.
Why I'll Never Make It is a weekly podcast hosted by actor Patrick Oliver Jones and features conversations with fellow creatives about the realities of a career in the arts. With the Broadway season ended and Tony Awards canceled, this month the podcast is taking a look back at previous Broadway productions. Douglas Sills is the fourth and final episode in a month-long focus on the artists who made those shows happen, with varying degrees of success. Past guests include Andrew Lippa (composer of THE ADDAMS FAMILY), Nicholas Belton (GREAT COMET, CAROUSEL), and Joshua Morgan (AIN'T TOO PROUD). Find these episodes and more at whyillnevermakeit.com.
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