The Patriotic Pelican

Seth Bowden, a senior at Denham Springs High School, is dressed as the titular character in the theatre department’s upcoming production of “A Pelican Story,” which students will perform four times over a three-day span April 5-7. In addition to playing the main role, Bowden also wrote the script for the play.

DENHAM SPRINGS -- It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… the Patriotic Pelican?

That’s right, the Patriotic Pelican — a red-white-and-blue, star-spangled-wearing superhero who will soon swoop into Denham Springs High School to save the day later this week.

The DSHS theatre department will close out the year with another student-written spring production when it presents four showings of “A Pelican Story” during a three-day run April 5-7.

The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 5-6 in the Jacket Gym, and there are also 2 p.m. shows set for April 6-7. Admission for the show is $5 for students and senior citizens and $8 for adults.

Ticket buyers will be in for a superhero treat — one with a patriotic twist.

The play, written by senior Seth Bowden, follows the exploits of the Patriotic Pelican, a flag-waving superhero who must team with Captain Constitution to defeat the evil Damien Donte, a billionaire mastermind who plots to take control of New Orleans with the help of “his goons.”

The double-cast play will feature more than 30 students in each performance, led by Bowden and Nevaeh Grimes in the titular role. Other students in lead roles include Lane Graves and Jason Nguyen (Captain Constitution), Troy Hollomon and Michael Hofler (Damien Donte), and A’mya Heggins and Jessica Knight (Detective Sandra).

But it all centers around the Patriotic Pelican — or as Bowden playfully called him, “the defender of freedom, the deliverer of justice, the destroyer of evil.”

Bowden said he created the character in a group chat during a summer trip for Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) in 2016. He brought the character to life in a minor role during the theatre department’s spring play last year, “Another Day, Another Test,” before donning the cape during a SADD visit to Seventh Ward Elementary last fall.

Now, the Patriotic Pelican will take center stage in a two-act play that Bowden wrote himself — all 16,000 words of it.

“I started with an outline of what I wanted to happen, and then an outline of an outline, and then the script,” Bowden said. “I have no clue how much time went into the play. There are whole weekends where I sat with [theatre teacher Donna] Van Oss and we just worked on the script. It was a lot of writing.”

There will be several “patriotic themes” throughout the play, particularly centering on “the freedom that America gives us,” Bowden said. 

“At the end, the Patriotic Pelican says, ‘We have the freedom to make our own choices, and our choices are what make us,’ and that’s what I love about America,” said Bowden, who has enlisted for the National Guard. “We choose our own destiny, and that’s the beautiful part about this. I can be anything I want to be. Hopefully that message comes across.”

‘A Pelican Story’

A production by the Denham Springs High theatre department

When: April 5-7

Times: 7 p.m. April 5-6, 2 p.m. April 6-7

Where: Jacket Gym, located at 1000 N. Range Avenue

Admission: $5 for students and senior citizens, $8 for adults

(Note: In the original version of this story, the title of play was incorrectly referred to as “The Patriotic Pelican.”)

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