BWW Interviews: Bill Bowers at Centenary Stages
Centenary Stage Company will present the amazing Bill Bowers in his one man show UNDER A MONTANA MOON November 15-18. Mr. Bowers is a busy man traveling the country with his multiple shows, but Broadway World was able to speak with him about his career and this show.
Bill, I'm so glad to get a chance to talk to you since it has been a while since I last saw you. You continue to get critical acclaim for your different shows. Can you tell us how you go about creating these plays?
I grew up in Montana, and the BIG QUIET of the West is in my bones! I am also a gay man, and was a gay boy in a small town in montana, in the 60's, before GLEE! These experiences of "knowing silence", internally and externally really shaped my view of the world, and of myself. When I was about 14, I learned that there is an artform about silence called Pantomime. I knew it was for me. So I began to teach myself what I thought it was. That led to high school drama, college drama, grad school, nyc.......to performing all over the world.
You have done TV, film, Broadway - how did a boy from Montana end up in this world?
I basically have always followed my heart, to be cliche. I came to graduate school at Rutgers University and that is what led me away from Montana. Then NYC was a natural next step after that. I worked in regional theatre for 10 years before getting my first Broadway show....and have just tried to always do the "next right thing." Gratefully, I have had people who have believed in me all along the way, and have encouraged me to keep going on this path.
You originated a role on Broadway in The Scarlet Pimpernel which must have been a thrill. Can you share a little about that experience?
It was fantastic. I am not trained in musical theatre so I was really intimidated by the musical talent around me. I got cast in this show because I am a physical actor and Scarlet Pimpernel requires Period Style and stage combat, both of which I had studied at Rutgers. I learned so much about how to show and pay attention, and really listen as a singer. I met my husband at Scarlet Pimpernel, and many great friends.
For a non-musical person...you went into another great show - playing ZaZu in The Lion King - did your mine training really come into play in that show?
I got the audition for Zazu because I was a mime. 90% of the audition was physical improvisation. And of course to do that role for over a year is a real workout, so my physical training helped with the endurance needed to do 8 shows a week.
I notice in Under A Montana Moon there are no words. What made you decide to present this show in this fashion and how long have you been touring with it?
UNDER A MONTANA MOON is my first solo show. It began as a "concert" at Harvard University in 2000. I was invited by Anna Deavere Smith to be part of the Institute on Arts and Civic Dialogue, and I was investigating the role of silence in our culture. From that I expanded the show for an Off Broadway production at Urban Stages in 2001, and then began touring it in 2002. At this point, I have performed UNDER A MONTANA MOON all over the world.....more than 30 states, Romania, Macedonia, Japan, Italy, Norway, Germany......this show has been my ticket around the world!