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Bremerton musician basks in stage light
Bremerton native Jason Fowler first started singing Italian arias at 8 years old.
His mother, Pam Morgan, admits he was alone among his peers in his musical interests. But Fowler, the son of a pianist and a singer, said it was inevitable that his life would be dedicated to music.
“It’s in my blood,” said Fowler, 34, adding he was “obsessive” about his musical studies as a child.
On Oct. 17, Fowler was on the biggest stage of his career, playing the antagonist Bill Sikes in the one-time performance of the musical “Oliver!” based on Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist,” at the Moore Theatre in Seattle. As someone who got his start in Bremerton High School theater and Central Stage Theatre of County Kitsap in Silverdale, the near-sell-out performance at the Moore, built in 1907, was a humbling experience.
“To be able to perform in the same space as Houdini did and others, it was just a treat,” Fowler said.
Morgan, an electrician at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and also born and raised in Bremerton, traces her son’s musical talents back to when he was 4 or 5 years old, singing with his family around the piano. He performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Crown-hill Element-ary School when he was 11 and taught himself the piano and trumpet as a child.
As a piano teacher, Morgan was never surprised by Fowler’s interest in opera and musical theater, adding that her three sons grew up listening to rock ‘n’ roll, oldies, opera and country.
“You name it, we did it,” she said.
Fowler’s father, Duke Fowler, who died in 2003, was a country western singer and played the guitar in the Navy – that’s where he got his voice from, Fowler said.
“He had an amazing voice,” said Fowler, a baritone. “That’s where I got mine from.”
Fowler began pursuing musical theater at Bremerton High School, where teacher Pat Laney was a “strong source of inspiration.”
He went on to perform with the Central Stage Theatre of County Kitsap, the Bremerton Community Theatre and the Bainbridge Performing Arts. He has starred in lead roles since he was about 17 and his favorite productions in Kitsap include “Jekyll and Hyde” in Bainbridge Island, “Company” in Silverdale and “The Wiz” at Bremerton High School.
“You get to meet really amazing, talented people,” Fowler said of his performances with Kitsap theater companies.
After going to school at Olympic College, Fowler moved to the Tri-Cities in 1997, where he performed for regional theater groups. But in 2004, his mother’s house in Bremerton burned down, prompting him to return home to help his family.
“We lost everything,” Fowler said. “It’s just kind of me and her keeping the rest of the family together.”
In addition to his theater work, Fowler teaches private voice lessons at his home. He was cast in “Oliver!” about two months ago, when he heard about the auditions for the show and thought he would fit the role of Bill Sikes. He was cast for the part right away, he said.
Fowler spent six weeks rehearsing the show with a cast that included Broadway veterans from New York as well as people doing their first musical.
Come performance time, he wasn’t nervous at all.
“I feel like a race horse waiting at the gate,” he said of his pre-performance adrenaline.
In the end, Fowler said the company’s single performance was a success.
“It was a bit of a rocky road, but we finally pulled it all together in the end,” he said “It went great.”
Next, Fowler hopes to join Bremerton Community Theatre’s “Sweeney Todd,” scheduled for April 2011, and other productions in the area.
Meanwhile, his mother enjoys the attention he’s received.
“I’m glad to see him making his dreams come true by performing and getting involved in some of the real musicals and getting to perform so other people can enjoy his talents, as well,” Morgan said. “He’s really amazing.”