The History—But Not Quite—of ‘Bare’

In the late ’90s, all Utah high school clubs are banned in an attempt to keep a gay/straight alliance club from being formed. Ellen comes out and Matthew Shepard is murdered in a horrific hate crime. In Los Angeles, Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere Jr. begin telling the tale of Jason and Peter, a doomed love story set in a time where self-loathing runs rampant and love is a casualty of intolerance.

Jon Hartmere Jr. (left)  and Damon Intrabartolo at an opening of “Bare.”

Jon Hartmere Jr. (left) and Damon Intrabartolo at an opening of “Bare.”

2015 boasts marriage equality progress but also brings higher hate crime rates. Bullying and suicide are center stage but not decreasing in numbers. And as TLC is set to air “My Husband’s Not Gay” this month, a special documenting men attracted to men but making the choice to be married and LDS, it seems that the issues of the late ’90s are not quite history yet. It seems the idea where…

“You learn to play the straight man / Your lines become routine. / Never really saying what you mean. / But I know the scene will change, / White picket fences, and a dog, / A trophy bride, and children. / God, I know, that’s what he wants.”

These lyrics to “Bare” are still quite relevant. Sadly, gay people are not yet fully accepted, and hate crimes still happen, less than a month ago in our own state, and the shame that is shoveled onto those who happen to be attracted to the same gender may be of greater importance today than in yesteryear.

In the past 15 years, “Bare” has played on the outskirts of mainstream musical theater, often being produced in colleges and universities but rarely by professional theater companies. It’s had two Off-Broadway productions, once in 2004 and then again in 2012. Shockingly, a review of the 2012 Off-Broadway production cited relevance as a weakness of the show: “…in a post-‘Glee,’ post-It Gets Better world, ‘Bare’ feels somewhat regressive…”

Inside the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles, California, where "Bare" premiered in October 2000.

Inside the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles, where “Bare” premiered in October 2000.

One just has to do a quick Google search to see that the battles of our LGBTQ youth are hardly regressive but still rather tragic and relevant.
From the modest beginnings in a 99-seat theater in L.A. to Off-Broadway to the religious and conservative setting that we call home here in Utah, “Bare” has a message to share that is especially significant for our community.

Despite the changing landscape of history, if there’s one thing that “Bare” shows, it’s the fact that its message remains strong and significant.