G. Valmont Thomas (“G. Val”), 58, an audience favorite at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, passed away in Ashland, Oregon December 18, 2018 after gracefully and valiantly fighting cancer.
G. Val began his acting career in Seattle, where he burst onto the theatre scene in the 1980s as Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, strutting his stuff in a sequined bustier and platform shoes. A gifted performer, G. Val was a talented vocalist and musician, a sought-after regional voiceover artist, and an accomplished actor. Originator of the iconic “Day-O, One Day Sale-O” ad campaign for the Bon Marche (now Macy’s), G. Val’s vocals played in the Puget Sound area for almost a decade – one of the longest ad campaigns to air in the Pacific Northwest.
But, it was his acting prowess and versatility that truly set him apart. Equally at home playing MacBeth in Shakespeare’s compelling tragedy or Mistress Quickly in The Merry Wives of Windsor, G. Val delighted audiences for 14 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, after honing his craft in multiple roles at Seattle’s Bathhouse Theatre, ACT, and The Empty Space Theatre.
His range expanded beyond mastering classical pieces to embodying profoundly American and contemporary characters. A favorite actor of Pulitzer prize-winning playwright August Wilson, G. Val was known as a “Wilsonian” actor, able to capture the rhythm and pathos of multiple characters in Wilson’s cycle of plays in performances that spanned both West and East Coasts.
G. Val was a natural teacher and used his talents to guide others. He was the Artistic Director of Seattle’s G.A.P Theatre, and a board member of the Washington Alliance for Theatre Educators and Theatre Puget Sound. He received a BA from Western Washington University and an MFA in directing from Penn State University. He served as Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing at The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and directed multiple play festivals, reading series, and acting classes in Seattle and Southern Oregon.
G. Val was one of the first actors to break the color barrier in Seattle in the 1980s, consistently performing in roles that were traditionally reserved for white actors, and paving the way for other actors to follow. He returned to Seattle in 2013, performing at the Seattle Rep, Intiman, and West of Lenin. He won two Gregory Awards (Seattle’s Tony Awards) for his performances.
This year, G. Val became one of the few actors to play Falstaff in all three Shakespeare plays, even if only for the opening of Henry IV, Part II at OSF. He considered this the shining achievement of his professional career. Sadly, after opening the show, he fell too ill to continue to perform.
What friends, family, and audiences alike will probably most remember is G. Val’s huge grin, deep belly laugh, love of all things musical, and enormous heart. He was a caring friend, an intent listener, and someone who noticed little things that many of us rush by each day. He will be deeply missed.
G. Val is survived by his three children, Aria Thomas, Langston Thomas, and Oliver Hansen; brother, Raymon; wife Deborah, daughter Blair; sister, Bronwyn Thomas (Jay) ; children, Morgan and Zachary; and two grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, G. Val asked that donations be made to The Rex Raybold Fund, 15 So. Pioneer Street, Ashland, Ore. 97520 to help others in need.
Memorial services will be held in Ashland, Ore. and Seattle, Washington sometime in January. Notices will be posted in this paper and on social media.