"It's important to start the season strong," said McPherson College faculty member Jd. Bowman.

"It's important to start the season strong," said McPherson College faculty member Jd. Bowman.

Bowman was not speaking of any of the college's athletic teams, but of the season of theater being performed at McPherson College this year.

"We brought some of the students back a little bit early," Bowman said. "A lot of schools do that with athletes. We can bring back our students early to train and do intensive rehearsals before classes start."

With six shows lined up for the next eight months, McPherson College is wasting no time in getting theater students on stage. The season will include “Well” by Lisa Kron, “Blithe Spirit” by Noël Coward, “Godspell” with music by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak, “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” by Ntozake Shange, “Barefoot in the Park” by Neil Simon, and the Kansas premiere of “Love and Information” by Caryl Churchill.

Bowman is directing “Well” and said this year's selections were especially influenced by two things — the availability of actors and a motivation to study modern theater.

"We wanted to have a modern twist on our season," Bowman said. "Last year we did some Shakespeare and mid-20th century plays."

McPherson theatre students will perform shows that are "new and relevant for [their] education," Bowman said. "Right now we have a lot of women interested in theater and the season has a lot of strong female roles."

"Well" will be performed in the Mingenback Theatre Sept. 8 through Sept. 10. The shows features Erin Fralick as Lisa and Bailey Short as her mother, Ann, along with an acting company comprised of Whitney Murray, Nora Grosbach, Vincent Watts and Christopher Rakowski. Bowman is directing the show with Dr. Rick Tyler serving as technical director, Abigail Trenkle as stage manager, Elizabeth Thornton running lights and J. Tanner Trigg running sound.

Bowman said "Well" gives his students the opportunity to explore an acting style that is more current in movements and language.

"It is a terrific, unclassifiable play," Bowman said. "It's a comedy, but it's also a touching drama. It's about family and our interactions with our family."

The show is unusual in that the author is the main character who, through telling stories of her life, finds her mother interrupting her thoughts, despite her protestations to the audience that the show is not about her mother, Bowman said.

"It's a pretty basic set, just a platform stage, but as it goes on, mom brings more and more of her own house on stage," Bowman explained, "unpacking memories and unpacking on stage."

Lisa finds herself equating her mother's work with racial integration with her own difficulty in accepting her mother's illness as "part of her beauty," Bowman said.

"She's looking at how we all need to support each other," Bowman said. "You have to accept people where they are."

Because of the themes and issues of family relationships, Bowman recommends the show for audiences over the age of 13 and said he hopes those themes will resonate with his actors — if not now, then at some time in their lives.

"I hope at some level the themes of the show will stick in their brain," Bowman said.

All shows start at 7:30 p.m. and tickets cost $5 for adults and $3.50 for children ages high school and younger, as well as seniors.

Season tickets are also available for $75. Season ticket holders can enjoy a themed meal before each of the season's shows.

Season tickets and individual tickets are available by contacting the theatre box office at 620-242-0444 or at theatre@mcpherson.edu.