Campus Celebrity: Ian Thomson '15

Name: Ian Thomson

Year: Senior

Major: Theatre

Hometown: Toms River, NJ

PCC Affiliation: Rusk Cowboy

There’s a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the protagonist’s non-Hellenic fiancé, Ian, enters the room and is greeted by shouts of “IAN!” from a smattering of Greek relatives. Every time I see Ian Thomson, I have to make a concentrated effort not to do the same (sometimes I just can’t help myself). This Campus Celebrity is the kind of person everyone is happy to see. He’s got an infectious smile and a passion for life that seems to have a strong gravitational pull. Ian and I have been friends for a while, but I was nonetheless excited about the opportunity to pick his brain and get to know him better.

Most people recognize Ian from his many performances on campus. He sings in Chorale, harmonizes a capella with the Nuances, and acts in every single play he can get his hands on. Most recently, Ian starred in The Prophet, which was his favorite straight (not musical) play that he’s been in. He counts it among his favorite acting experiences, right up there with all his musicals (especially Seussical).

Readers who were on campus in the spring of 2014 may remember [title of show], Davidson’s first student-produced musical. Ian and his close friend, fellow then-junior Haley DeLuca, spearheaded this project. Through Davidson College Friends of the Arts (whom our ever-busy celeb also interns with), Ian and Haley received a SPIKE! grant to direct, produce, and perform a musical in three weeks. Ian says the idea grew out of a mutual obsession that he and Haley have for musical theatre. “Davidson has so many talented people on campus,” he said, “and we were shocked that a school with a theatre department like this didn’t do a musical every year. So we just did it ourselves.” Ian hopes that with [title of show], he has demonstrated that student-run theatre is “awesome” and doable for anyone who wants it.

Unsurprisingly, Ian elected to spend the fall of 2013 further cultivating his passion for theatre at the British American Drama Academy in London. His semester abroad showed him that “acting can be a career path, not just a side thing.” He saw twenty-three shows in a ten-week period – and there were only two plays he didn’t like. He noted that London’s theatre culture differs from America’s in that people appreciate it “as a job, as art, not just as entertainment. Joe Schmoe in a pub would talk about the play he just saw.” Across the pond, theatre is an engrained part of culture that it isn’t here.

When Ian graduates in May, he hopes the he’ll be leaving a legacy of taking risks and pursuing passions. “That was hard for me. It’s hard for a lot of people, but I want underclassmen to know that it’s a real possibility and it’s something you can do at Davidson. You shape your experience.” He additionally wants to leave Davidson “a more comfortable place for everyone to be themselves.” He says that he hesitated to come out as gay for a while, but it ended up being such a positive experience – especially here at Davidson – that he wants to “be a part of making people feel comfortable to explore and be who they are” in all aspects.

If you still don’t feel like you have a good sense of who this Campus Celebrity is, Ian says you can tune into Bob’s Burgers: “If I were a cartoon character, I’d be Linda Belcher in a heartbeat. ‘All right! Bobby! We’re doing a dinna theata!’ Also that show takes place in New Jersey [raises the roof].”

“Linda Belcher, musical theatre, and gay people. I think that pretty well sums it up.”