September 14, 2010
Cowley alumnus takes break from Broadway tour to visit with students
Crediting Cowley College vocal music director, Connie Donatelli, with
helping her strive to become a working artist, Jen Bechter, a 2003
graduate of the school, returned to Arkansas City on Tuesday to speak
to a Master Class for music and theatre students.
Bechter is currently in the Broadway Tour of “Beauty and The Beast” and is playing the part of “ Madame de la Grande Bouche”. The Rose Hill native planned the trip to Cowley during a break in her touring schedule.
She originally was a business major when she started at Cowley, but switched to a music major after speaking with Donatelli.
“Connie is probably the biggest influence in my life in helping me choose what I wanted to do, and Cowley was one of the best experiences I ever had,” Bechter said.
Bechter, who was involved in choir and drama courses at Cowley, went on to earn a degree in Musical Theatre from Wichita State University, prior to her first tour of Asia in the production of “Cinderella”.
She earned the part of “ Madame de la Grande Bouche” out of 5,500 people that auditioned for one of the 28 cast member spots selected to be in “Beauty and The Beast”.
She informed the students of what it is like to be a part of a major musical and provided tips for the students to focus on.
“If you decide to pursue music theatre look at getting your audition book together,” Bechter said. “Push yourself higher than anybody has asked you to push yourself and strive to learn more everyday.”
She treated the students to an acappella performance of “Human Again” from the second act of “Beauty and The Beast”.
Donatelli, who saw Bechter perform her role during the show’s performance at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, is proud of her former student.
“Once she got involved with music theatre she had the eye of the tiger,” Donatelli said. “Because of her passion and drive I knew she was going to be able to do it.”
Donatelli and director of theatre and theatrical services, Scott MacLaughlin, went to Rose Hill High School earlier in the day to see Bechter speak at her former high school.
“Scott and I wanted to be there for her,” Donatelli said. “We are so glad to have her come back. It is amazing for the students to know that someone that was in this same room or same chair could make it. This will inspire them and let them know anything is possible with hard work.”
Also sitting in on Bechter’s presentation were, MacLaughlin; instrumental music instructor, Josh Fleig; and piano instructor, Dr. Gloria Tham.