Todd Waite plays Sherlock Holmes at the Alley Theatre.
by Donalevan Maines
Britain’s heir to the throne, Prince Charles, was one of the world’s most eligible bachelors when a teenage Todd Waite met him in Canada.
The out Houston actor is currently starring in Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club through June 23 at the Alley Theatre. This is Waite’s third time to play Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character at the Alley. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to return to a character three times,” says Waite, a Heights homeowner who’s in his twelfth season as an Alley Company Artist. “I’ve lived in Houston longer than I’ve lived in any one place.”
Waite previously played Holmes in two different shows. “Each play is different, so the character is slightly different,” he explains. “The role has been more dramatic and it has been slightly more comedic.”
Waite was just a schoolboy when he met Prince Charles, who is now an old married man about to become a grandfather for the first time. (Prince Harry, the ginger-haired son of Charles and Diana, has replaced his father’s standing as bachelor royalty.) Waite was just one of twenty Canadian students in the prestigious International Baccalaureate program at Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific near Victoria, British Columbia, when the monarch came to visit.
“I thought I was going to do medicine,” Waite recalls, but that ambition was “interrupted,” he says, by a fortuitous audition that changed his mind and his major to theater.
At the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Waite earned a bachelor of fine arts, studying movement, dance, script analysis, and other theatrical arts. Ten years later, after suffering a torn ligament in a tennis tournament, the wiry 6’4” thespian convalesced by getting a master’s degree in directing in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, the young man who was born Todd Postlewaite (like the late British actor Pete Postlewaite) had shortened his stage name to Todd Waite. Actually, a Toronto talent agent had made the cut before sending him out on auditions.
Waite is currently an adjunct professor for both the University of Houston’s graduate program in theater education and BFA theater program. His private students attend Juilliard, Yale, The Royal Scottish Academy, The Stella Adler School, as well as Stage Door, Interlochen, and Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Montrose.
Acting at a repertory theater for a dozen years has enabled Waite to work with a number of important visiting artists, as well as appear in more than sixty productions, including five Christmas seasons of the one-man show, The Santaland Diaries.
This season, Waite has also been seen in The Elephant Man, A Few Good Men, Death of a Salesman, and November. Waite previously spent six seasons with the renowned Shaw Festival, and he played Enjolras in the Canadian premiere of Les Miserables.
The perception of Houston has changed radically for his friends back home in Canada, says Waite, beginning with the election of Annise Parker as Houston’s mayor. “Canada legalized gay marriage years ago,” he explains, but Houston is catching up with our neighbors to the north in terms of becoming attractive as one of the continent’s hippest cities. “This is the moment,” says Waite, “and it’s kind of nice to ride that wave.”
The ActOUT performance of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, preceded by a pre-curtain event that begins at 6 p.m. To buy a ticket, required for this event, use the promo code: ACTOUT. Purchase online at alleytheatre.org or call the box office at 713/220.5700.
Other tickets to Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club start at $26. They are available for purchase at alleytheatre.org, at the Alley Theatre Box Office, 615 Texas Avenue, or by calling 713/220.5700.
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.