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BWW Interviews: Wade McCollum of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT Tour Discusses Touring and Performing in High Heels


Where did you go to college and what did you major in?

I left high school a year early to go to a small acting conservatory in California called PCPA, the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. It was a perfect training program for me, focused on acting, Shakespeare, voice and movement. It was a rigorous schedule, 10-6 every day except Monday and then rehearsal and performances at night. It was a challenge to find time to do homework. You could find me performing in "The Miracle Worker" or "Tommy" and meanwhile, offstage, I'd be trying to read "Othello" and memorize "A Lie of the Mind" for class the next day. It was a great place to train because there is a huge regional theatre intertwined with the conservatory, so we would take classes during the day and then act alongside our professors that night. It was an incredible way to see and honor everyone's unique process of crafting character, and begin to forge one's own process.

What was the first show you ever performed in? What was the part you played? What was that experience like?

My first official play was "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in the 7th grade. Growing up in Ashland Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, us Ashland kids had an uncanny amount of exposure to the Bard, so Shana Cooper (now a brilliant director who graduated from Yale and is now directing at OSF!) rallied us all together to do the show... drum roll... on the high school stage! The audacity!!! I was Demetrius in that production and it was SO MUCH FUN! I felt so astute, performing on the high school stage as a 7th grader, being on the front page of the Ashland Daily Tidings and finding solace and comradery in the community of theatre geeks. It was very healing to my chubby, insecure, confused 12 year old self. I have subsequently had the joy of being in "Midsummer" three other times; as Bottom in a high school version directed by the same, slightly older Shana Cooper (it was her senior project), Demetrius at PCPA and as Puck at Willamette Rep, directed by the genius OSF alum Kirk Boyd.

How did you get the role in Priscilla?


-Singing clips of tunes from the show and acting several scenes -Running to do other auditions the same day and going home to memorize more sides for other auditions


-More singing and scenes with same outfit but this time on camera presumably for the Aussies -Dance Callback -Go buy cheap high heels at Payless Shoes on 34th street to dance in -Dance and lip synch FOR MY LIFE at the dance call

-Meet the amazing team, and some fellow cast members.

-Go return the heels, because unemployment check after doing an Off-Broadway show is not a lot of coins :) -Wait by the phone, oh wait, the phone goes with us these days... try to ignore the fact that it's not ringing yet...until it did!

What is the best part about touring with Priscilla and what is the worst part?

Oooh, I'm bad with superlatives, but I will try. Favorite: the cast and crew, it's a really great group. Ooh, and (see I told you I was bad with superlatives) the reaction from the crowds, especially in some of the more rural communities, they are so overwhelmingly enthusiastic. It's awesome to feel the love, and have a great group of fellow artisans to share it with. Worst part: the weather in Minneapolis in January and being away from my fiancé Noah for long stretches of time.

Tell us about some of the other actors you are touring with? What have you learned from them?

This is an amazing group of people. I have learned countless things, but one thing presently on my mind that I am so grateful for is the wisdom of crafting a sustainable performance. Many of my fellow cast mates have done numerous tours and long runs of shows. I have not and it has been a new process for me to forge a performance that I can healthfully perform 8 shows a week for a year. In heels.

If you could give advice to someone thinking about pursuing a career in theatre, what would you tell them?

DO IT!!! We need Theatre artisans. Follow your interest, see where it leads, be awake, and curious, be determined and courageous but not too hungry, be adventurous and practical, passionate and patient, deliberate and spontaneous, but most of all be happy. I think when an artist is happy and content, creativity and opportunity flow more freely, and if they don't...then you're still happy. Cultivate an impermeable joy, an adamantine bliss unscathed by the noise of industry and all its trappings.

If you had not gone into show business, what would you have done?

Astrophysics. I still might. They are not mutually exclusive; in fact they are surprisingly mutually beneficial.

PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT plays at Bass Concert Hall from May 8-12, 2013. Get tickets by going to their website.The show runs at the Bass Concert Hall in Austin from April 9-14, 2013. Go to to purchase tickets.


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