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Wade McCollum talks about ‘Water for Elephants’ on Broadway

Film and stage actor Wade McCollum sat down and chatted about starring in the new musical “Water For Elephants” on Broadway.

Wade McCollum
Wade McCollum. Photo Courtesy of Wade McCollum.
Wade McCollum. Photo Courtesy of Wade McCollum.

Film and stage actor Wade McCollum sat down and chatted about starring in the new musical “Water for Elephants” on Broadway.

‘Water for Elephants’

McCollum plays the role of Wade in the show, which is being performed at the Imperial Theatre in New York City. “The show is finally happening… and it’s a thrill. It is really amazing.”

“I get to play Wade squared,” he said with a sweet laugh. “The fact that my character has the same name as me was not intentional on my part. It is a character from the book, and in the show, Wade, is an amalgamation of a few different characters put together.”

“It is a trip being called my own name on stage,” he admitted. “I just love the group of uniformed people in this production. Everyone is really special, disciplined, devoted, trusting, and playful. It feels like we are all in it to make a beautiful show together. Overall, it is a really good group of performers.”

Working with Grant Gustin and Isabelle McCalla

On working with the musical’s lead actors Grant Gustin and Isabelle McCalla, he said, “Isabelle is a superstar. She is one of those rare humans who has the ability to be so playful, open, and she has such an incredible instrument. Isabelle is just one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with, she is really gifted.”

“Grant is so talented. I am so grateful to be in this show with him. Grant is built for the stage and he has a gorgeous voice,” McCollum said. “Grant is a truth sayer, and I believe every word that comes out of his mouth. He is authentic in everything that he is portraying. There is a raw truth to him and it’s a joy to work with him.”


When asked how he handles being dialogue-heavy in the musical “Water for Elephants,” he said, “Rick Elice’s dialogue is super acute, intelligent, funny, and really efficient. I find his writing really great, as well as opaque and poetic.”

The digital age

On being an actor in the digital age, McCollum said, “It’s a double-edged sword. Everyone understands the impulse to share, we all have it. On one level, it is a great opportunity to share, connect and find a global community.”

“On the other hand, it also feels distracting at times, or an obligation,” he said. “When I was working in the West End, it was an actor’s obligation to post several times a week about a show for promotional reasons, so that makes sense, especially to help sell tickets.”

‘Make Me Gorgeous!’ Off-Broadway show

McCollum discussed being a part of the Off-Broadway show “Make Me Gorgeous!” “It turned into such a beautiful event,” he observed. “When we started, we had no idea if it could find an audience, and it ran for five months, so that was incredible. It felt like a wonderful surprise.”

McCollum noted that it was “great” to work with the playwright and director Donnie Horn, whom he has known for “so many years.” “Darius Rose (also known as Jackie Cox) came in when I started tech rehearsals for ‘Water for Elephants,’ so that was cool,” he said.

McCollum on playing multiple characters in one-person shows

“I’ve done a lot of one-person shows, and I love that ability of a one-person piece and in the present moment,” he reflected. “There is a lot of fun flexibility in terms of where it’s going to take the story, and that was a real thrill. I love playing multiple characters; I find that really fun as an actor.”

Advice for young and aspiring actors

For young and aspiring actors, McCollum said, “In the beginning, just make things. Follow your curiosity in terms of medium, approach, and teams. Thanks to the digital age, nobody is stopping anyone from making work these days.”

“So, as a young actor, if you are not given the opportunity to be in someone else’s work, then you can make your own work these days and share it. There is really nothing stopping anyone from being an actor. It is all about creating,” McCollum elaborated.

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, McCollum said, “Cherished.”

Wade McCollum: The Neuroscientist

McCollum is also a neuroscientist. “During the pandemic, a friend and I started a medical music company dealing with neuroscience and music and that is going really well,” he explained.

“At the same time, I started a program at UPenn studying Neuroscience, and I’m having the time of my life. It has been so much fun, especially since I never went to a formal school for it,” he said.

Success is peace

McCollum shared that he equates success with “peace.” “Success is an odd one,” he noted. “It’s a loaded word. It has to be a personal thing where each of us define our own success.”

To learn more about actor Wade McCollum, follow him on Instagram and check out his official website.

For more information on the musical “Water for Elephants,” check out its official homepage.

Read More: “Water for Elephants” review

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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