appearing in One: The Musical, opening Friday, running Wed-Sat 8 pm, through Oct. 1, Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, 224-4400, $20-35
Having made a name for himself as Portland's go-to actor for fantastical musical roles like Hedwig and her Angry Inch, the Weekly World News-inspired Bat Boy, and the Rocky Horror Show's Frank-N-Furter, Wade McCollum has moved to the next stage in his showtune evolution: Writing, producing, and starring in a full-length musical of his own. Based on the story of Siddhartha, One: The Musical finds McCollum playing Sid Arthur, a rock musician "struggling to choose between the path of ego or integrity." The piece has snowballed into a production of epic dimensions, featuring a cast of 18 and a list of corporate sponsors to rival the Republican National Convention. And yet, having set the bar for himself just about as high as he could set it, and with opening night now upon him, the ever-smiling McCollum seems entirely un-phased.
One has over 50 cast and crewmembers working on it...
Yeah, and everyone's being paid. Everybody. The budget is enormous.
Providing income for that many theater artists at once is a major achievement in this town.
I'm looking forward to helping even more [Portland] theater companies pay [artists] a living wage. There's no federal funding for the arts anymore, so it feels really good to raise money for people like actors, who [might work up to] six days a week, 10 hours a day.
But do you feel extra pressure because of how much has been invested in this thing?
I feel like because of the number of people working on it, it's become a team effort. It's definitely of grandiose proportions, but the thing that really blows my mind is the level of dedication the cast has poured into the show. You can see them growing from the project as well as giving to it.
You've been writing One for nearly a decade. Was it hard to let go and entrust your vision to so many people outside yourself?
That's a big question. There have been many stages of surrender. I feel at this point like One is 19 and hasn't left the house yet, like it now has its own ideas and is saying something totally unique, and it's time for it to move on. As an author, it feels resolved because I've allowed it to be breathable. I was really interested in form versus formlessness and creating a structure with moments that will always be applicable and that will change with each new production.