and click HERE for a more organized summation of the whole fiasco
note that Pentacle Theatre™ is a trade-marked name

UPDATED 9/02/03

click the CD for


by Randy Bowser

the undoing of a wonderful project

more 8/30/03 update at bottom of page

9/2/03 note from Randy Bowser, director of "Metropolis" at Pentacle Theatre

ONE-- Throughout this site's pages about the Metropolis cast album project, I have made several attempts to share everything I could concerning the CD and its eventual cancellation.

In response to many inquiries, I passed on what information I knew about the Governing Board's discussions about the CD.

Feeling strongly that not all the facts were ever passed on to me or to anyone else outside of the Board, there were instances where I was left to theorize and draw possible conclusions.

There was simply no way to plainly write out the details of the Board's decision making process, because they didn't make me privy to all the details, and what they did tell me was confusing and contradictory.

Apparently because of the mixture of facts and hypothesising on my part, some Board members took not only exception but deep offense at some things I wrote on this site's pages.

Now that the CD project is dead, I am honestly at a loss to see how anything I've written could be taken so negatively that the result was for the Board to cancel the project in frustration.

But that's exactly what has happened.

Before sending me a certified letter which supposedly outlines the Boards reasons for cancelling the CD (which was a repeat of what they first sent to me months ago when the project was cancelled the first time)---an email was sent to me stating that the project would have gone ahead if the Board hadn't gotten angry over my CD reports on this site.

This kind of contradictory communication from the Board typifies the entire story of the CD's rise and fall

be sure to click the CD for the comments left on the CD poll bulletin board


TWO--If the Board finds anything I've said here so horribly offensive, they should see the kind of things I had to see written on my own website (click to see poll comments) in connection with the CD.

Along with very positive messages left on the now defunct bulletin board, some almost maniacally hateful messages were also left by one or two people vociferously against the CD project, simply because, as said in their posts, they detest me personally.

I'm not saying anyone on the Board necessarily sympathizes with the sentiments of those hate messages. But what was posted does reflect what I've had reported to me by several sources. It wasn't a surprise that there are at least some people at Pentacle who have grown to so strongly resent me.

I think as a group, the Board acted as they felt they must for what they saw as the best course for the theatre. I know there are some very sincere Board members who made there decision for what they feel are good, honorable intentions.

I do feel that there other Board members who from the beginning had strong anti-CD agendas and who wore the others down with months of complaints and the desire to kill the CD---whatever their motivations may have been. I believe this to be true based on word I've gotten directly from some Board members and from people who attended some Board meetings.

It's the agenda of those few nay-sayers on the Board which I've described in negative terms on this website. I never intended to paint the entire Board with one brush.

The bottom line on the CD story remains this for me: That it was a wonderful opportunity for Pentacle which would have been embraced by a Board and theatre membership with broader vision than what has been demonstrated this year at Pentacle Theatre.

PRELUDE (the above and the following CD story were both written before the CD was absolutely cancelled)

"Metropolis", a little-known musical was the surprise hit of Pentacle's 2002 season.

Following a sold-out run during which an extra performance was added and also sold out, the show's composer, Joe Brooks, offered for Pentacle to record a cast album and sell it as a fund-raiser for the theatre.

In January 2003, the cast recorded the album, and Frank Fullerton began the months-long project of mixing it.

Pentacle's Board of Directors, initially enthused about the project, ended up having a 7 month debate on whether or not to actually release the CD.

For their individual reasons, every argument against the precedent-setting project was argued.

Word got out that the central problem some Board members had with the CD was their distrust of Metro director Randy Bowser's motivations and persistence re: the project.

Ultimately, despite earlier promises, extensive newspaper coverage, and in contemptuous disregard for Pentacle's large group of Metro volunteers, the Board has refused to allow the CD's release. Their stated reason is that they don't like the manner in which their CD meetings were publicly mentioned on this site.

In other words, it seems that taking exception with the show's director became more important than upholding Pentacle's ideal of being supportive of their own volunteers.


After months and months of delay on the "Metropolis" Pentacle cast album CD project, I decided to add a poll to the Metropolis site to help demonstrate to Pentacle's Board of Directors how there are Metropolis volunteers who are very disappointed their album has not been released, and who are ready to help promote and sell this Pentacle fund-raising project.

I didn't expect the "No-I'm against this project" option on the poll to actually be utilized. Ever optimistic, I didn't imagine that anyone would use this poll as a forum for character-bashing. But that's exactly how at least one person used it.

As long as the poll still operated correctly (Tripod's polls were down and inoperable recently) I left the negative remarks up, feeling that the appalling nastiness of these nay-sayers' comments were something everyone should see, so that it could be better understood how incredibly distorted this whole CD issue has become.

Now that Tripod has fixed the problem with their polls, I decided there was no point to put the poll back up. It was meant to be a simple, positive thing, not the play thing of the disturbed individual(s?) who were splashing up their offensive grafitti.


43 YES votes were regisered to the question "will you buy at least one CD when it's released?" 7 votes were cast for the alternate response, "NO--I'm against this project." Those 7 votes appeared regularly, at the same time of day, for a week. The poll allowed a computer to register a vote once every 24 hour period. Needless to say, it looked very much like one person was vigorously wanting to drive up the number of negative responses.

Participants were also able to put up comments. The nasty slams against me, which have nothing to do with the CD, I am sure do not reflect the opinions of the theatre's Board of Directors, or anyone else.

But there is a very disturbed individual in the theatre's group who has maintained a vitriolic campaign against me for almost a year now. I recognize the writing style of these nasty poll comments as the same as in the unsolicited hate email I have gotten from this person. That person is insanely resentful towards me and has written comments and opinions which are truly lunatic fringe stuff.

It is, however, unsettling to think of how this person is currently employed as an educator--! For that person's sake, I hope my theory is wrong, and that someone else wrote that garbage.

The best thing that came out of the poll is that comments were left which made it clear that people are frustrated and confused about the facts of the CD story, and that has given me an opportunity to shed some light.


This is a case of "If there's a will, there's a way." And, conversely, if there isn't a will, then there isn't a way.

The CD probably would have been released many months ago as originally planned if Pentacle's Board of Directors had wanted that. If they saw it as the wonderful opportunity which it is, if they really comprehended what an honor it is, and probably if they would have thought of the project themselves--I doubt there would have been a debate.

As it is, there have been suspicions, for instance, about me personally making money from the proect. As spelled out in the contract and in the detailed proposal, that would be impossible. And there's certainly no hidden deal with composer Joe Brooks for me to profit from the CD.

There have been accusations that the project is more about my ego than the good of the theatre--a viewpoint only possible from people who inappropriately and competetively see everything in terms of egos. Again--it's a skewed complaint that has nothing to do with this project put together by proud Pentacle volunteers.

There has been resentment over the amount of attention both Metropolis and I have received. I would have thought the incredible amount of great publicity I have gotten for Pentacle over the years would be appreciated, rather than have it garner disdain for me being unavoidably in the spotlight. My name being "high profile" has just been a natural result of having done so many innovative and exciting things at Pentacle.

Ron Cowan, the arts and entertainment writer at The Statesman Journal newspaper, has given "Metropolis" and Pentacle some wonderful coverage in recent years. He sought me out for more and more information about the CD. The amount of coverage he chose to do was beyond my control. He's done a great job. It's unfortunate some people have been riled to see my name come up in the paper so often. Again, what does that complaint have to do with the cast album?

There has also been resentment that I took it on myself to come up with this CD idea in the first place and and that I got the ball rolling on it. Ten years of experience at Pentacle have certainly taught me that for most anything to get done, one has to take the bull by the horns. Publicity is often neglected because it's been left to others instead of a show's director taking direct action on it himself. The negative result is that I have been seen as a "loose cannon" by some, instead of a go-to director who gets things done.

NONE of the above, obviously, should have anything to do with the Metro cast album. If personal resentments towards me have indeed caused the derailment of the project, then clearly there is a marked lack of professionalism being indulged in by some decision makers. IF that is the case.

To date, no comprehensible reason for backing down on their promise has been announced by the board, with the possible exception of one issue about a cast member, discussed below.

The cast put in many hours recording the album. Frank Fullerton has put in hundreds of hours over the last 5 months mixing it. Melissa Turner and Jonathan Pedersen have also poured much work into the album's packaging design.

More devotion, effort and hours have been put into this project than goes into the mounting of an average play production.

ALL THAT EFFORT FROM VOLUNTEERS is what this CD project is about.


I was hoping to finance it myself. The Board quickly approved the project. As time went on, I saw that I wouldn't be able to put up the money for mass-producing the discs, and that is when the Board started back-tracking on their go-ahead.

The waters quickly got murky.

The contract from Joe Brooks, which the theatre's own lawyer approved, was looked on with suspicion, for one thing.

It also emerged that one member of the cast had not signed the requisite artist waiver at the recording session, and when contacted about that, stated that he still would not sign it. He has repeatedly claimed to love and miss the group of performers he worked with, but he was willing to disappoint them all, apparently over hard feelings towards me that developed during the show.

I asked for the cast to contact this cast member and ask him to reconsider. His reaction was that he felt he was being harassed, and I was informed that directly because of this, I had lost my key supporters on the Board for the project.

That was a very mysterious response--Trying to clear up the waiver problem turned people against me? It was intimated that there were legal threats involved which had scared the Board. I don't know for sure if that's really the case, but every inquiry about that possibility has been met with eerie silence.

I've recently seen this person greeted like a hero---the man who let himself be recorded, knowing he would foul up the CD's release later on.

That particular issue was somewhat cleared up when I was told that this person agreed to sign the waiver if the Board went ahead with the project. There seems to again be a question about that, however.

Other issues were voiced, which I am not alone in finding vague.

In a face-to-face meeting with the Board over the continued hassles with the project, it was reported to me by the Metro representatives present, that the degree of irrational anger and nonsensical "reasons" were amazing.

One thing was clear from that meeting---that the CD indeed has become something seen as My project, and not that of the Metro cast and the theatre's.


Pursuing a different solution, I SECURED OUTSIDE FUNDING so the theatre doesn't have to spend a dime on the CD, but the project is still being blocked.

The only successful way of selling the CD is through the theatre, in the lobby and at the ticket office. That's also the only way of selling the CD which is allowed in the contract with composer Joe Brooks. The Pentacle should have the discs proudly on display now.

But they apparently still don't want any of it.

If I'm incorrect, and they would like to follow through on their promise, I, the Metro cast and crew, and the public will all be delighted.

Somewhere in this crazy quilt of a fiasco are the "reasons" that Pentacle has turned down the honor of being the only community theatre in the country to have a professional cast CD.

Important detail---Even during the wildly successful sold-out run of Metropolis, during which an extra performance was added, and The Statesman Journal gave it massive coverage, numbers of theatre members minimized the show and the Board President at the time even did his best to undermine both the morale of the cast and the success of the show.

I feel the minimizing has continued, with the current Board acting as if Metropolis was "just another show" and telling me they have no faith in the potential sales for the CD.

They don't think 300 units could be sold. It's really to laugh. Almost that many could be sold by the cast and crew alone.

But, that was an objection back when they were asked to finance it. Now that there's no financial risk---the only possible issues left are off-topic and seemingly in backlash to me personally, as I was indicating earlier on this page. I have been told in so many words that the only real problem with the project is that I am not liked by some people---!

Perhaps the theatre's membership should be told this, as well as the public who has been waiting for the CD. They deserve some explanation of why the Board reversed itself on the project.

As it is, even I have not been told all of the details of the Board's "executive sessions" when the project has been discussed. No rational explanations have ever been forth coming. If there is something logical that they can pass on to us, and perhaps prove some of our second-guessing to be wrong---that would be much appreciated.

(reminder: this CD story written before the definitive cancellation.)

There's still reason to have at least a vague hope that this CD will be released as it should be. I've been told that it's still "in process." SO maybe it will come out, but it's very unfortunate that it wasn't released as originally planned, when local interest was high shortly after the run of the show.

Meanwhile, it's an extremely sad state of things.

UP-DATE 8/28/03

The Board of Directors has firmly decided, for the second time, that the CD will never be released.

Making it no longer a mystery as to why this 5 month project will never see the light of day, I, Randy Bowser, have been told it's because I have displeased the Board.

They object to me having made public some of the details of their 7 months of debating on the project.

They are offended (and, I believe, embarrassed) to see their actions published.

Metropolis cast and crew, patrons who waited all year for the CD--this wonderful, unique cast recording will not be in your hands, because, apparently, a group of 10 people have decided it's more important to say "No" to me.

My belief is that the board never saw the CD as a Pentacle project, as a Metropolis cast project, but as Randy Bowser's project. And with that perspective, many of the twists and turns of struggling to stop the project, were in direct reaction to me. If accurate, I'm sure I'm not alone in finding that possibility appalling.

In the black and white of an official email from the Board's current President, this is the shameful decision made in the name of this "community" theatre.

UP-DATE 8/30/03

A certified letter was sent to Randy Bowser as official notification from Pentacle's Board that the CD project has been scrapped. The letter is the same as was sent months ago, obscurely saying that the Board cannot take the financial risk of potential legal action against the theatre or Metro cast members which could ensue from the CD's release.

This letter is in direct contradiction to the letter sent the day before which stated that the project would have gone forward if the Board had not gotten upset with things posted on this site which are interpreted as "attacking" the Board in a "demeaning" way.

TWO ATTORNEYS, not just one, pronounced the theatre's contract with Joe Brooks as solid and protective of everyone's rights. No one on the Board has a law degree, but they appear to feel they have a better legal understanding of the contract than the theatre's own lawyers.

Most mysterious though is this persistent statement that the theatre would be in danger after the release of the CD. The only theory of why the Board would be so concerned with that possibility is if they were given notice by someone that they would indeed sue if the CD was released. If that is the case, the Board has never admitted there is such a threat. If legal action was threatened, they would likely not want to reveal the source of the threat to protect that person.

All that is theorizing however, and until such time as something more concrete is said by the Board, the contents of their official notice about the cancelling of the CD remains completely unacceptable in its vagueness.