Call Redialed: NEW Thomas G. Waites Interview: Much Ado About Nothing

Jun 24, 2024
Call Me Adam Title Page. Call Me Adam logo is on the left side. Thomas G. Waites' headshot is on the right side. In the top center of the page is an orange circle with jagged edges that says Featured Interview. Between our photos it says Much Ado About Nothing. Below the title and in between our names there is an auburn circle that says

I last spoke with actor, director, writer Thomas G. Waites in 2014 when he was directing Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.

A decade later, it is great to catch up with Thomas as he is now directing Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, starring students from his TGW Acting Studio.

Additionally, Thomas enlisted his longtime friend & college roommate, Kelsey Grammer, to help spread the word about the show.

In this interview, Thomas once again answered my call, but this time around, he reveals:
  • Why he wanted to mount Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
  • How he got his longtime friend, Kelsey Grammer involved
  • What is something everyone should know about Kelsey Grammer
  • What he has learned from the students he teaches
  • So much more

Connect with Thomas: Website, Facebook, Instagram

Shakespeare’s tragic comedy Much Ado About Nothing is a Merry War. The courtship of Hero and Claudio, mostly in verse, contrasting with the witty sparring of Benedick and Beatrice, mainly in prose, creates the dramatic action of the story. Hero’s honor tainted by rumor rescued by truth is the plot, the story is more about playful flirting, sexual innuendo, and funny comic relief characters. It could be called The Law against Lovers. Ending in a double wedding, what could be more fun than laughing at our soul’s desire for love and affection.

Set in 1940’s Italy, one is reminded of the hot Italian lover and his pension for the promiscuous. Much Ado About Nothing is a feel-good comedy about honor, love, sex and just plain fun!

Much Ado About Nothing runs through the newly extended date of July 7, 2024. Click here for tickets!

Director Thomas G. Waites with the cast
of Much Ado About Nothing, Photo Credit: Rob Klein

1. This June you are presenting a reimagined version of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at the Gene Frankel Theatre that is giving students from your TGW Acting Studio an opportunity to perform in front of a live audience as opposed to virtually. Out of all of Shakespeare's plays, why did you choose this one to mount? Hi Adam, Firstly any chance to do Shakespeare is a gift, the reason I chose Much Ado is that I have either acted in professionally or directed all of the other comedies and this one proved quite a challenge. 😀

2. To help spread the word about this show, you decided to reach out to your long time friend/former Juilliard roommate, Kelsey Grammer. How did you approach him with this opportunity? Kelsey has been a friend to me for a long time, since we were both 17, back in 1865 (lol), I asked if he could help to mount this show and lucky for me he said, yes. He also feels the need to spread culture and what can be more acculturating than Shakespeare.

3. What do you feel Kelsey brings to this endeavor that you wouldn't have had without his involvement? Well, Kelsey helped with the fund raising campaign and we mounted this show on an embarrassingly low budget, so, Kels, chipped in as did Evan Azrilliant (close pal of mine) and Kelsey was there for consultation if and when I needed it, because we are both Juilliard trained actors.

4. Through your friendship with Kelsey, what is something most people don't know about him, that you feel everyone should know? Something people may not know is that Kelsey is such a sweet guy, I saw him perform Man Of La Mancha in London last year and whilst waiting for him I congratulated many of the actors on their way out, each one, without provocation said, you’re friends with Kelsey, what a sweet man. Cheers! He and I also can break out into emotional sobs over our children, people we knew, and feelings he holds for his wife, Kayte, and he’s just a down to earth guy, the fame has not changed him.

Kelsey Grammer and Thomas G. Waites

5. Much Ado About Nothing is a feel good these trying times that we live in, how do you continue to find laughter in life? We are living through the best of times and the worst of times no dispute from me, Much Ado proposes that perhaps we look before leaping. We judge one another too quickly based on hearsay, supposition, and I just love to laugh and these actors are really funny.

6. The show is described as "Hot Italian lovers, masquerade balls, and unruly gossip. I'm going to break each of these topics into a separate question.

  • Who has been your hottest lover? My hottest lover is my ex-wife and current girlfriend, Lisa Greenberg.
  • What has been your favorite masquerade ball? The music in the masquerade scene and the dance are just lovely, music by the brilliant Cedric Allen Hills and choreographed by the inimitable Aislin Evans. Such fun to watch them tackle this scene, I aged a few years (10) whilst working under these conditions but these young men and women have the courage to do this work, they are hungry to perform live and they have grown enormously as young artists, it’s been one of the great joys of my life to work with young men and women this dedicated to their craft. It was a do it yourself deal or it doesn’t get done. They did it brilliantly as well. The wit, well it’s Shakespeare, I think as Harold Bloom suggests, Shakespeare invented us. Since the plot depends on Hero losing her reputation then regaining it, we all ought to think twice before we speak of another. That I believe is the author's intention.
  • What is some unruly gossip you have heard about yourself that you'd like to clear up right now? I had heard that I was difficult to work with as a young actor, this is a lie and I will challenge any man or woman to a duel that dares to stain my reputation, my reputation, my reputation, Iago. 

Matt McGlade (Ursula), Brandon Thomas Lima (Margaret)
Jordan Elizabeth Gelber (Hero) & Kaitlyn Mitchell (Beatrice)

Much Ado About Nothing, Photo Credit: Rob Klein

7. As mentioned earlier, this production features students from your Acting Studio. What made you want to start your acting studio? I started teaching because people every time I worked on film, TV, or in plays, always came up to me and said, will you watch my scene and tell me what’s wrong. So I did, and I seem to have a gift of gab er I mean teaching that comes naturally to me. So Vinny Pastore saw me in American Buffalo back in 1981, he approached me about teaching him. I started with one student and within a month had 35.

8. What do you get from teaching that you don't get from acting? What I get from teaching is to watch actors grow. Some more quickly than others and at Juilliard they were very patient with me because I was difficult, whoops, uh, troubled as a young man and the kindness bestowed upon me from the greatest teachers in the world at that time; Robert Neff Williams, Liz Smith, Edith Warman Skinner, Tim Monich, Stephen Arron, Gene Lesser, Jane Kosminsky and many more, they were the key that unlocked my talent for that I am immensely grateful.

I have had a great time in this business and been very fortunate, more lucky than most and not as lucky as I could have been were I not so difficult, er I mean young, er I mean troubled (I hope you’re smiling at least).

9. What is something you have learned about the craft from your students? To teach is to learn, so that each week I teach, I learn what courage these young people have, what fire in their souls to do the work, to stick with it time and again, rejection after rejection. They have taught me to be a better man.

10. What is something we didn't get to talk about in this interview that you'd like my audience to know about you? I am a person that has an instinct for love. The great actor, John Heard, taught me that in my first film. He coached me, took me aside, realized I had no clue as to what the hell I was doing acting as a lead in a major motion picture, (On the Yard) so he took it upon himself to coach me.

He was a lovely man, a good friend to me, and one night while we were getting loaded at the bar we almost got into it with the Penn State football team. All of them against us. I peacefully dissolved the conflict. John though was ready to go! I said, hey fellas, we are just a couple of actors and we need our faces to match tomorrow morning, so haha! May I apologize for us and let this go. They complied and then got drunk with us. Hahaha.

What people do not know about me is that I am hungry to grow, to learn. I am blessed with some talent but really it's my love of the work, the joy that it brings people when I do a good job, acting, directing, writing or teaching. I am also a musician, a song writer/singer, my band is called, Heartbreak Waites. John Goodman gave me that name when I was 25, a ripe age.

Thank you for your time. I pray it gets my actors some well deserved attention, Tom.

Thomas G. Waites

More on Thomas G. Waites:

Thomas G. Waites is an actor, director, and acting instructor originally from Philadelphia. He is a graduate of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, where he studied alongside Robin Williams, Christopher Reeve, Frances Conroy, and others.

Thomas founded the TGW Acting Studio in 2000, coaching countless actors including Alfred Molina, Vinnie Pastore, Vinessa Shaw, and Oliver Hudson.

As an actor, he starred opposite Daryl Hannah in the film The Clan of the Cave Bear as well as in ...And Justice For AllThe ThingLight of Day, and The Warriors.

Thomas made his Broadway debut in Teaneck Tanzi opposite Deborah Harry and Andy Kaufman. Other Broadway credits include Awake and Sing! with Frances McDormand and Harry Hamlin, King Richard III starring Al Pacino, and Howard Korder’s Search and Destroy. Off-Broadway he appeared in Clifford Odets’ Paradise Lost opposite Geraldine Page, Alan Bowne’s Forty-Deuce, and David Mamet’s American Buffalo.

On TV he has been seen in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Equalizer, Kojak, and Miami Vice.

Thomas has directed numerous Off and Off-Off Broadway plays including the long-running hit Six Goumbas and a Wannabe.

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