Illinoise Production Stage Manager Thomas J. Gates Dies at 51 | Playbill

Obituaries Illinoise Production Stage Manager Thomas J. Gates Dies at 51

The Tony nominated musical cancelled its evening May 8 performance in response to the tragedy.

Thomas J. Gates, production stage manager of Broadway's Illinoise, was killed in collision with a transit train the morning of May 8. He was 51 years old.

Illinoise paid tribute to Mr. Gates with a May 9 post on Instagram.

"With heavy hearts we mourn the passing of our Production Stage Manager, Thomas J. Gates. Thom was the center of Illinoise on Broadway, a beloved friend and collaborator. We are devasted for his husband Rick, another member of the Illinoise community.

These two amazing human beings led our company on our journey since the beginning. We dedicate the run of Illinoise to Thom and his loving memory."

A treasured member of the theatre community, Gates was a familiar face backstage at some of Broadway's biggest hits, including Waitress, Newsies, and Hairspray. On Broadway, he also worked on the original Broadway productions of Brooklyn, The Visit, and High Fidelity, and on revivals of Finian's Rainbow, Noises Off, and Pippin.

On tour, he led productions of White Christmas, Chicago, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Grease, with countless regional credits in between.

Known to those who loved him as Thom, Mr. Gates trained at Niagara University, and was a proud union member, trumpeting the benefits of Actors’ Equity for many years, including with his work as a stage manager for the Easter Bonnet Competition.

Mr. Gates' death comes as an extreme shock to the community, leading to the cancellation of Illinoise's May 8 performance, as well as a flurry of grief-stricken social media posts. Sara Bareilles, composer and star of Waitress, wrote the following eulogy on Instagram:

"He was gentle. He was funny, usually without meaning to be. He was soft spoken. Reliable. Generous. Loving. Compassionate. Tired and overworked, but I never heard him complain. He was the first one in and the last one out. He has been a stage manager for many shows over the years, and taken care of countless others…but he’s the only one I made my first show with who took care of me. Today is unspeakably tragic for many reasons—I can’t even put words to it. Thom Gates will be missed and loved. I hope he knew that."

Mr. Gates is survived by husband Rick Steiger, who is also a stage manager. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched by Broadway stage manager Lisa Iacucci, with raised funds to go to Steiger. Playbill's heart goes out to Mr. Gates' family, friends, and all who loved him. Information on a public memorial is forthcoming.

Today’s Most Popular News:

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting with your ad blocker.
Thank you!