Clarion alumnus takes his dreams to the stage

Clarion University alumni Benjamin Rowan will be performing in “CHUGGINGTON LIVE! The Great Rescue Adventure” at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center on Jan. 31. The North American tour of the children’s musical will present two shows on Saturday at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

(Left to right) Actors Rori Nogee and Jonathan Ramos play the roles of Lori and Eddie in “CHUGGINGTON LIVE!”
(Left to right) Actors Rori Nogee and Jonathan Ramos play the roles of Lori and Eddie in “CHUGGINGTON LIVE!”

Rowan takes on several roles in the production. He acts as the swing, or the understudy for every role on stage, including the main role of Eddie, the depot repairman. Rowan has also been put in charge of the choreography as the production’s dance captain.

A Brookville, Pennsylvania, native, Rowan graduated from Clarion in 2010, with a BSED in Music Education, a bachelor of fine art in Musical Theatre and a minor in dance.

“I did all of the musicals back in high school…and I loved performing. It’s funny ‘cause actually at the time, I was told that theater could not be a career path,” Rowan said.

Rowan had a conversation with his high school choral teacher, Zachary Covington.

“I went into his office, and we had a chat. And I said, ‘Do you think I could do this?’ He said, ‘Absolutely,’ and he was right,” Rowan said.

Rowan’s first professional job took place at Dutch Wonderland, a theme park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was his first time performing children’s theater, and it became Rowan’s niche.

Clarion alumnus Benjamin Rowan is an understudy for the main role of Eddie.
Clarion alumnus Benjamin Rowan is an understudy for the main role of Eddie.

“[Children’s theater] takes a special talent and a ton of energy,” Rowan said. “My grandma always would tell me that I was climbing walls as soon as I was born, so I feel like I’ve always been a ball of energy and bouncing off the walls…so I feel like it works well with children’s theater.”

After his first gig, Rowan went international. Theater has taken him across the United States to Mexico, South America, China and aboard Norwegian Cruise Line.

Rowan has been part of numerous productions, including “Yo Gabba Gabba Live! A Very Awesome Holiday Show!” and “Sesame Street Live! Elmo’s Super Heroes!”

“CHUGGINGTON LIVE!” puts Rowan in the middle of an action-packed journey that includes adventure, challenges and bravery. The musical production, based on the Disney Junior show “Chuggington,” will feature eight live trains that maneuver and drive on stage.

The tour opens Friday in New Jersey and runs until the end of June.

“The show is really about following your dreams and all the obstacles that come your way….You have to work hard and have a positive attitude,” Rowan said.

Rowan’s suggestion to Clarion University students?

“My advice is to work hard. Never stop growing. You need to continue working. You need to have the attitude that you want to continue to expand your craft, to expand your knowledge, to expand your talents,” Rowan said.

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