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Young Bemidji actor takes center stage at Playhouse

Bemidji High School graduate Alle Bowman plays the leading role in "The Spitfire Grill," the first show of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse 2012 summer season at the historic Chief Theater. Bowman plays Percy Talbot, who tries to get her life back on track in a small Wisconsin town. She brings to the role all the emotional energy of a young woman coping with life as it is while striving for a brighter future. The story of life in small town America told in words and music. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - When the house lights go dark and the spotlight comes up on a solitary character, center stage, a young Bemidji actor will be singing and setting the stage for the story of her life at "The Spitfire Grill."

The play which debuted this week at the historic Chief Theater, is the first show of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse summer season with the newly installed artistic director Terry Lynn Carlson.

Luckily for her and for the audiences, Alle Bowman, received a Facebook update about the upcoming Bemidji auditions for the summer season at the Chief. Alle happened to be in town for her Christmas break from school and thought why not go and see what the audition was all about?

Being cast in a major role, Percy Talbot, a girl who suffered through abuse, incarceration and re-entry into society has proven to be a challenge for Alle.

"I have had to dig down deep to find the range of the character's emotions," said Alle. "It is probably the deepest and widest emotional range that I have ever had to deal with but it is definitely worth it. The music is incredible and the show is really well put together."

Alle said she can recall her first time on stage - in the second grade - but it was in attending rehearsals for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse that her nascent talents were recognized.

"My mother, Ann Bowman, auditioned for a part in 'Miracle on 34th Street' and was cast in a leading role. I was just in the chorus and went along to the rehearsals and decided that it was really fun to be in a musical," said Alle. "I loved it and my third-grade teacher told the class, 'This girl is doing something else in the community and you guys should be doing that as well. She gets a break on her homework.' I was just 9 years old at the time."

Alle was in the cast of "Peter Pan" and "Raggedy Ann and Andy" for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse and was the lead in "Babes in Toyland" for Bemidji Community Theater - all while she was still in elementary school.

A solid student, Alle was able to perform in three different plays in high school as well as perform with the choir and show choir. Now a pre-med student at the University of Minnesota-Morris, Alle said college is more difficult than she imagined it would be, it's far different from high school. Following in her tradition of being a well-rounded student, Alle auditioned and was picked for the leading role in her college's musical this past year.

"They only do a musical every four years and I was really lucky to get a leading role in 'Anything Goes.' When I think back, I know now that I owe it all to Chris Fettig at the high school. I had such a good background musically, thanks to him. He was a good mentor, was very supportive and knew how to give constructive criticism," said Alle.

When asked if she had a performer that she really likes and admires, Alle was quick to name Kristen Wiig, a "Saturday Night Live" regular.

"She is great, she can do it all and I want to be like her," said Alle. "Right now I just do theater for fun but I want to be able to do it all. I want to be like Wiig because she is so hilarious and fearless. I love comedy."