McPherson College theatre professor Jd Bowman was inspired by the young actors he performed with on stage during the Salina Community Theater’s Center for Theatre Arts production of “Spring Awakening” – so inspired that he offered them all performing arts scholarships to attend McPherson College.
“The McPherson College theater department focuses on producing new works and “Spring Awakening” is considered a new work. I wanted to reward students in central Kansas doing this kind of acting,” Bowman said. “This show is about giving voice to youth and I thought the scholarships would enhance that idea.”
“Spring Awakening” is a Tony-award winning rock musical based on the controversial 1891 play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. Set in late-nineteenth century Germany, it concerns teenagers who are discovering the inner and outer tumult of human sexuality. The Center for Theatre Arts, Stage II production ran July 27-30.
Bowman was cast in the adult male role and portrayed nine different characters in the show. He performed along-side 22 youth actors ranging in age from 13 to 20 years old. Many in the cast have been involved in the summer theater program for the last five years.
“The characters I play on stage are indirectly responsible for three of the deaths in the show, so it’s fun to play the bad guy on stage and get to be a good guy off stage,” Bowman said.
The scholarships presented to the actors are for $5,000 and renewable for four years. According to Bowman, cast reaction to the presentation was overwhelming. “They kept asking me, ‘is this for real’ and they were genuinely happy for each other,” Bowman said.
Bowman has been a theater professor at McPherson College for the past 12 years and an actor for 30 years with professional experience in London, and Cleveland as well as regional theaters in Wichita and Chattanooga. The McPherson College Theatre Department’s season will open on September 14-16 with “Greater Tuna,” in Mingenback Theatre with performances at 7:30 p.m.