ASHLAND, Ore. -- A 14-season member with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company died early Monday after a battle with cancer.
Gregory Valmont Thomas, better known as G. Val, was the only OSF actor to have played Sir John Falstaff in all three Shakespeare plays. OSF says his versatility was evident by the breadth of his roles in both classic and new works.
The 2018 season, which would have been Thomas’ 15th, will be dedicated to his memory.
“G. Val passed away surrounded by many of the family and friends who have taken such good care of him during his illness,” said OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch. “I am filled with gratitude to have known this man so great of artistry and so generous of spirit. Indeed, one of his last acts was to make a donation to OSF’s Rex Rabold Fund in order to ‘pay back’ the company for the care and help he received from so many.”
Thomas performed about 60 roles in his 14 years at OSF. His first season at the Festival was in 1998, when he played Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Snake in The School for Scandal. He was a member of the OSF acting company every season through 2012, appearing in a wide range of roles including Simonides in Pericles (1999), Mistress Quickly in Henry IV, Part Two (1999), Feste in Twelfth Night (2000), Macbeth in Macbeth (2002), Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson (2003), Lincoln in Topdog/Underdog (2004), Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor (2006), Solly Two Kings in Gem of the Ocean (2007), Gabriel in Fences (2008), Soothsayer in Antony and Cleopatra (2003), Melchior in On the Razzle (2007) and Blue in Party People (2012). He also served as assistant director of The African Company Presents Richard III (2011).
In 2017, Thomas returned to the OSF company to play Falstaff in Henry IV, Parts One and Two.
Thomas was slated to perform the roles of Capulet and Ensemble in 2018’s Romeo and Juliet. He was to take part in his third Black Swan Lab—OSF’s primary play development incubator.
Thomas also worked at A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Bathhouse Theatre, Seattle Group Theatre, Empty Space Theatre and Pioneer Square Theatre, and served on the faculty of The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is the winner of two Seattle-based Gregory Awards: Outstanding Actor in a play (2013) and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a play (2016).
In addition to his acting accomplishments, Thomas had a passion for music and took part in three seasons of the OSF Green Show. In 2014, he performed “a musical look at the influence of Blues and R&B” on his life with a group billed as “G. Val and Friends.” Thomas shared these thoughts in his Green Show biography: “Black Americans brought forth Blues music from the experiences they went through and were going through. The music it became had the strength to hold the entire country on its shoulders.”
Thomas was born Dec. 15, 1959, in Nuremburg, Germany. The family moved many times because of his father’s military career. Thomas spent his teenage years in Washington state, where he received a bachelor’s in Theatre Arts from Western Washington University and an MFA in Directing for the Theatre from Pennsylvania State University. He is survived by his daughter Aria Thomas; son Langston Thomas; brother Raymon E. Thomas, sister-in-law Deborah and their child Blair; sister Bronwyn K. Thomas, her children Morgan and Zachary, brother-in-law Jay and two great nephews. Thomas was preceded in death by his parents, Henry R. Thomas Jr. and Kathryn C. Thomas (nee Hollingsworth).