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Backstage interview: the creatives behind Bare

Max: Could you please give us a brief description of what Bare is about and why you have decided to stage it now?

Mina: Bare explores a variety of themes, from body image to sexuality to familial relations, all under the inescapable umbrella of religion. It lays bare its characters, their insecurities and their fears, and doesn’t shy away from the moral grey area they all occupy. Following Peter and Jason’s clandestine relationship in their final year of school, the musical takes its time to explore everyone else in their lives as well – there are no two- dimensional characters here, and that’s what makes it so approachable and engaging to almost anyone! 

Felix: Bare is about a gay relationship in a religious boarding school and follows the story of the two main protagonists as they fall in love and then ultimately fall apart as they struggle to come to terms with their sexuality and the views of those around them. It’s rare to have a musical where the gay relationship is more than just a subplot and Bare obviously places it at the centre of everything.

How have you found the rehearsal process and what’s been your favourite moment?

Peter: I’ve loved every minute of rehearsals for so many different reasons. The show has such an incredible score and the music is so much fun to sing; the characters have so many layers and such intricate relationships with one another, there’s so much to sink your teeth into and the acting is a really interesting challenge. But mostly, I think it comes down to the group of people working on the show. It feels like such a cohesive group and the directorial team have put in a lot of effort to make sure that we break down the barriers between cast and crew to form a single unit, all pulling in the same direction. And that’s exactly how it feels: everyone supporting each other and creating a space where everyone’s talents can shine. I have two favourite moments. The first was two weeks ago at our first sitzprobe. It was our first time hearing the band live and singing the entire show from start to finish. It just hit so different to all the other rehearsals and I had goosebumps the whole way through; everyone sounds insane. Then, tonight, we had our first run in the O’Reilly. It’s an emotional show—I won’t spoil the second act, don’t worry—but we finished, several of us in tears, and just held each other for a few minutes. There was just this collective breath of ‘wow, this show is something special’, feeling so lucky that we all get to do it together, and this simmering excitement at the prospect of sharing our hard work with audiences next week. We can’t wait.

Gianni: I’ve never been in any type of theatre production before, but have always wanted to be in a musical since I was young, so initially I was very nervous to meet everyone else at the first rehearsal. Those nerves thankfully vanished when I met our lovely cast and crew, and how willing everyone was to make sure that no one was left behind, no matter their previous level of experience. Since then, especially as I got to know the musical better, rehearsals have been so enjoyable and are always made better by the cast and crew. My favourite rehearsal moment so far has been the first full run-through of the show. It was incredible to see all the songs finally connect together and form a cohesive storyline, and it just heightened the excitement and level of emotion we all felt.

How similar are you to your character in real life?

Gianni: As a queer person raised in a Catholic family, I certainly relate to some of the challenges my character (Peter) faces. Coming to terms with your identity is scary, and even after that there are sadly still many challenges queer people face. In real life, I’m grateful to have a very accepting and supportive mum, so it has been interesting to explore the nuances of Peter’s relationship with his mother, especially regarding family pressures and the influence of religion.

Peter: Honestly, if I was anyone in the central love story, I would be Peter, not Jason. I’ve always been more introverted, immersed in my own thoughts, overthinking everything and hesitant to express myself, so I really relate to that part of Peter in the show. Jason is always so brash, bold and quick to take action; he never really thinks before he acts—could never be me.

What is your favourite song in the show and why?

Mina: Once Upon a Time brings me to tears every time; but if I need a bit of a pick me up – Confession is probably what I’d go for; that may just be because I’m now just imagining our cast doing their amazing choreo to it! 

Felix: Currently really love Absolution as Gianni gets a chance to show off his incredible vocal and emotional acting skills. 

Peter: This is such a difficult question because this show is filled with so many absolute bops. You & I is definitely the most fun to perform, it’s so cheeky and it captures the nature of undercover romance so perfectly. One Kiss has no right to sound as sexy as it does, and Are You There just slaps from start to finish. But, I think I might have to say that Bare is my all time favourite. It’s a duet between Peter and Jason at the emotional climax of the show, it’s the first time we see them freely and unabashedly express their love for each other and the music delivers. There’s a reason it’s the titular song, just saying.

Gianni: My favourite song has to be “Warning”, performed by the incredible Eleanor Dunlop (playing Claire, Peter’s mother, in the musical). I genuinely had goosebumps after we ran this song at the sitzprobe. I think the lyrics are very relatable to any parent who is trying to support their child through something which they struggle to understand, and Eleanor’s voice makes it hit even harder.

Why should people come and see the show?

Felix: For the insane hip-hop/street dance (thanks to our amazing choreographer Tiggy!) [Tiggy Jones], incredible pop/rock opera music and a hugely talented cast and crew! 

Mina: Simply to feel something. No, really: if you want to laugh, cry, be shocked, scared, and generally in your feelings this is the show to come to. Also some beautiful acting, show-stopping choreography, and mesmerising singing!

Gianni: Though Bare highlights the love story of Peter and Jason (we love queer love), it also explores the lives of numerous other characters, and how the unfolding events affect everyone in different ways. I like to think every audience member will uniquely relate to the show, and that’s the beauty of it. Come see us 1st-4th March at the Keble O’Reilly!

Peter: So few shows put a queer love story in the spotlight, it’s really relatable and it’s so empowering to see it take centre stage. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll sing the whole way home. And you’ll be supporting the amazing work of a wonderful team of student creatives. Plus, it’s gay. Are you really gonna tell me you have better 7th week plans?

Bare opens tomorrow at the Keble O’Reilly until 4th March.

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