If you have noticed one of the many promotional posters for “Bare” at various places on campus, you know that this is a story of forbidden love. These posters have two people hugging in an unfocused portrait and feature quotes from the contemporary musical that are sure to make heads turn. “There’s no such thing as heroes who are queer,” it says.
Drake University Theatre’s production of “Bare” is set to open tonight in the Performing Arts Hall of the Harmon Fine Arts Center. With lyrics by Jon Hartmere Jr. and music by Damon Intrabartolo, “Bare” depicts the plight of Jason and Peter, two homosexual students who are struggling to maintain their relationship at a Catholic boarding high school. The musical bears slight resemblance to the universally known story of “Romeo and Juliet,” but the catch here is that both Romeo and Juliet are boys.
Auditions for the musical took place in the first week of school back in September and the cast and crew have been hard at work since.
Nathan Serviss, senior technical theatre design major, who was the set designer for the production said, “We have been working non-stop since the beginning of the year and it should all come together and hopefully our hard work will pay off.”
There are 27 Drake students in the cast and Karla Kash, Drake Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, directs this production.
“I have found that I most enjoy being a part of theatre that challenges people to take a closer look at the world we live in, theatre that makes people question their own convictions – ‘Bare’ is that kind of theatre,” Kash said.
She further went on to acknowledge the cultural relevance of the production.
“Since beginning rehearsals in late September, there have been seven reported deaths of teenagers from suicide – all of whom ended their own lives after enduring harsh bulling because of their sexual orientation. I hope you are entertained and inspired in some way by our production of ‘Bare’–inspired in such a way that you take whatever action you can to help bring an end to the current epidemic facing the youth of this nation.”
As opening night nears, the cast and crew are filled with feelings both of excitement and nervousness over presenting such an important story to Drake and the Des Moines community.
“It hits home for me and I think it does so for a lot of people in the cast. It’s a personal journey we have taken and, especially with the recent suicides and all going on, it seems very timely,” said first-year Eric Ferring, who will be playing the part of Peter.
Moira Nash, a senior BFA Directing major, shared her feelings.
“I think illustrating these characters’ struggle to be who they are–gay in a society that rejects them–shows what we don’t want to go back to. Gay people need to be given the same rights as everyone else.”
A press release from the Theatre Department said, “At its heart, ‘Bare’ is a story of learning how to love yourself for who you are.”
But don’t go thinking an important social message is all that “Bare” has to offer.
“The music is gorgeous and it’s a beautiful story,” Kash said in the same press release.
Maura Gillespie, sophomore BFA Musical Theatre major, also said, “The show is a little controversial, but I hope everybody sees it as entertainment while retaining the message we’re trying to send.”
Tickets are on sale right now, and they’re selling out fast. Run to the Harmon Fine Arts Center right now if you haven’t bought your tickets. You can also call 515-271-3841 and get them if you like sitting on your futon and being as immobile as possible.
The show, which runs approximately two hours, is not intended for children because it contains mature content, strong language and brief nudity. Audience members should also be comfortable seeing same-sex couples in intimate settings.
Bare cast members
Photo courtesy of Drake Theater Department