Thad Wilson: From Red Mountain Theatre to Broadway and back again for the ‘Holiday Spectacular’

Thad Wilson in rehearsals for the “Holiday Spectacular.” (Photo/Stewart Edmonds for Red Mountain Theatre)
Thad Wilson’s fate was sealed as a performer at age 12 on a family trip to Canada.

“I grew up in Vestavia Hills, doing church musicals at Dawson Memorial Baptist, singing in the children’s choirs at church and school, before seeing ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in Toronto on a family vacation,” he says. “The moment that chandelier went up and the iconic overture started, my mom said she saw me sit forward in my seat and stay there for the rest of the show.”

Soon after, Wilson started auditioning at theaters around Birmingham, landing roles in “Oliver!” at Canterbury United Methodist Church, and, in 1996, Summerfest Musical Theatre. Summerfest was a pre-cursor to Red Mountain Theatre, where Wilson participated in summer workshops and the performing ensemble.

As part of the performing ensemble, he was part of RMT’s first holiday show in December 2000. Nearly a quarter-century later, he’s one of the adult stars of RMT’s “Holiday Spectacular,” which opens Thursday and runs through Dec. 17.

“It’s great to be back with Red Mountain, celebrating the groups that gave me the foundation for my college training and career,” Wilson says. “I am singing some songs here and there, dancing a little, but it’s all about the kids.”

Wilson’s time as one of those kids paved the way for college at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Each summer, he’d return to RMT, where his shows included “Grease,” “Footloose” (filling in for the injured lead actor just hours before showtime), “Forever Plaid” and “Cats.”

Work at dinner theaters and regional summer stock theaters was followed by the national tour of “The Producers” in 2006. New York called after that. Wilson sang in the “Christmas Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall, made his Broadway debut in “Billy Elliot” and toured with that show, “Cinderella” (with fellow RMT alum Audrey Cardwell, now on Broadway in “Shucked”) and “The Prom.”

Now, though, he’s back in Birmingham.

“My husband and I relocated here from NYC during the pandemic in 2020, and he has earned his nursing degree and now works as a nurse in the heart and lung transplant unit at UAB,” Wilson says. “We are keeping Birmingham as a home base, but I am continuing to pursue performance opportunities outside of Birmingham.”

Wilson calls the rest of the adults in the cast of the holiday show “so wonderful.”

“Kelli Dodd-Steffen is an exceptional talent and kind soul; she is truly special,” Wilson says. “I knew Aidan Alford’s older sister, Jane, when we were both in the youth programs at RMT, and she is a radiant light with a gorgeous voice.  There is nothing that Hannah Kuykendall can’t do.  Jeremy Jefferson oozes swag, and I wish I was half as cool as he is.  And Jalen Kirkman sings as beautifully as he dances.  Audiences are in for a real treat.”

In addition to the adults, the show includes 75 performers aged 8-18 and, as always, cameos from some animal performers.

“Holiday Spectacular,” at Red Mountain Theatre Nov. 30 through Dec. 17.

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