On Saturday, November 23rd, I made my way to the Power Center for Bare, a musical production being put on by the on-campus theater group MUSKET. I had volunteered to be an usher for the night, and conversations with the other ushers let me know what to expect in the show. Despite knowing what was going to happen, no amount of background knowledge could have prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster I was about to get on.
Bare is a pop opera that focuses on a group of high school students in a Catholic boarding school as they grapple with
relationships and their sexuality. The two main characters, Peter and Jason, played by Andrew Cekala and Nicholas Kraft, are secretly dating. They, and the other characters, deal with the internal conflict of their sexuality in the context of their religion. The musical deals with topics of religion versus sexuality, suicide, and drugs. Raw and heartbreaking, I know I was not the only one who left the theater in tears. The musical truly showed the reality of suicide in the LGBT+ community.
The most amazing part of the show were the songs. The actors had gorgeous voices, breathing life into the emotional story through their singing. This is important because a majority of the most serious topics in the musical were covered in the songs, since there was minimal dialogue. In addition, the actors did a wonderful job embodying the personalities of the characters they were playing.
The set was beautifully made, and the actors made use of all the space available to bring the story to life. Certain pieces of the set, like the way the walls were painted, created a boarding school feel. The different lighting helped create an emotional atmosphere that fit with the scene. This was especially apparent in the closing scene where Peter looks out a glass window, and the only light is that of the “moonlight” coming in through the window. The lighting, along with the silence of the actor, contributed to the somber mood of the ending.
This musical haunted me for days, and even now, I know will never be able to forget the emotional impact of seeing Bare.