Arts and Entertainment

Internationally recognized tenor back home for 'The Prodigal'


Staff writer

One of Federal Way’s own, opera singer Robert McPherson, who has performed across the nation and in Europe, is directing and performing a play in his home town.

“The Prodigal” opens April 25 at Federal Way United Methodist Church.

McPherson just returned from France, where he sang in “La Donna del Lago.” The tenor still makes his home in Federal Way and “charges the batteries” here when not working elsewhere, he said.

“The Prodigal” came to his attention in November. McPherson draws anywhere between $2,000 to $45,000 per evening when he performs in larger houses. But the writer of the play, Andrew Miller, is a long-time friend of McPherson. The two attended Sacajawea Junior High School, Federal Way High School and the University of Puget Sound together. It was the friendship, as well as McPherson’s interest in the play itself, that drew him to “The Prodigal.”

When they began discussing the play, McPherson initially was going to direct it. But as he learned more about a particular character, Marcus, he found the role irresistible.

Marcus is a friend who accompanies the lead character, Jacob, on his journey. Jacob, played by Dave Gosline, is the prodigal son of the biblical parable.

“Marcus plays Jacob’s conscience,” McPherson said.

The play fleshes out some characters, such as the parable’s older brother, Isaac. Isaac is the favored son who never does wrong, but in the play, it is partially out of Isaac’s shadow that Jacob is fleeing when he leaves town, McPherson said.

Other characters have been created who do not exist in the parable. They include the mother, who expresses the family’s sorrow when Jacob leaves home, and two rogues who help Jacob blow his inheritance.

“In the parable, we think of the human story,” McPherson said. “There have always been a few things that bothered me about the parable. For one, the relationship between the brothers is not in good shape. Two, Jacob is back right where he started. But the journey was worth it. Life is a journey, to grow and hopefully evolve, to explore our inner selves. The play explores those things.

“Jacob leaves home and gets wrapped up in some of the seedier parts of life. We can all say we were the prodigal at one time in our lives. We walked away from things we shouldn’t have, we’ve made stupid mistakes. But in the end we become better people for it.”

“The Prodigal” is McPherson’s directorial debut.

He has worked “with some of the best directors in the nation,” said Miller, who wrote the play. “I really trust him.”

Staff writer Kenny Ching: 925-5565

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