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The Addams Family, Altogether Ooky, Opens Tonight at the Arsht Center

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People have always been fascinated by the dark side of things," says actor Douglas Sills, one of the stars of The Addams Family, which opens tonight at the Arsht Center. There's a jovial dread that surrounds this macabre creation, which began as a simple cartoon that satirized the American family in The New Yorker 73 years ago.

Sills plays the slick-haired, double-breasted-pinstripe-suit-clad Gomez. You remember him. He's the family patriarch with the Transylvanian-style castle and insatiable appetite for his beloved wife, Morticia. "This is an important figure in American pop culture," Sills says enthusiastically when asked about stepping into the role made famous by actor John Astin in the 1964 TV series.

An award-winning team put the Broadway version of the creepy clan together. The script was written by Jersey Boys

creators Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music and lyrics were penned

by Andrew Lippa, and choreography comes courtesy of Sergio Trujillo.


this story, daughter Wednesday has met a "normal" boy and plans to

marry him. But she asks Gomez to do something he's never done before:

keep the whole thing secret from his wife. Then the boy and his family

come over to meet the parents. The plot is sort of The Bird Cage meets

Vincent Price with an added note of wackiness.

Gomez basically wants to keep his daughter happy and not freak the shit out of his potential in-laws out. As with every Addams Family

story, the characters find themselves in everyday situations, but

because they're morbid and ghoulish, the familiar becomes pleasantly


It's Gomez and his family's walking the thin line between

ordinary family and charming oddness that's made them such a lasting and

endearing cast of weirdoes. Where the everyday family man deals with

his job, his mortgage, his Honda Civic, his nagging wife, and his 2.3

kids, Gomez and his creepy clan puts a different spin on the family


He too makes a living for his family as a lawyer, and

Morticia is a darkly undead stay-at-home-mom. He's a family man, like

anyone else. But his expectations for his kids -- the dour faced

Wednesday and the chubby troublemaking Pugsley -- is that they embrace

the strange. The grotesque is beautiful, the weird is the norm. The kids

play with electric eels and have widow spiders and man-eating plants

for pets.  Their family crest proudly boasts the credo: "We gladly feast

on those who would subdue us." The Addams clan is unpretentious. Their

American Dream is a nightmare, but in a droll and fantastical way.

The Addams Family

has always acted as a kind of fun-house mirror of the American family

archetype. In the original cartoon, the stories and situations poked fun

at the perfect nuclear family. As the characters and narrative evolved,

the plots reflected society's prejudices toward anything different.


the Addams Family members were the oddballs on the block -- living

adjacent to a cemetery, celebrating the macabre, Morticia doing her

gardening by snipping the heads off roses -- they perceived themselves as

normal. It was the neighbors who were the strange ones. Yet the

Addamses accepted them all. It's altogether ooky and, as Sills promises,

an entertaining ride to get your Halloween spirit on.

Read the full preview in this week's print issue.

The Addams Family takes the stage at 8 p.m. tonight at the Arsht Center's Ziff Ballet Opera House (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami), with performances through October 30. Tickets cost $27 to $74. Call 305-949-6722 or visit arshtcenter.org.

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