In connection with the Utah Repertory Theater Company regional premiere production of the explosive rock musical “Bare,” the company is partnering with the Ogden-based OUTreach Resource Centers to bring the organization’s much needed youth support services to Salt Lake County communities, with a $15,000 fund-raising goal.
To show its commitment, Utah Rep has taken the unprecedented step of donating 15 percent of ticket sales to OUTreach to help reach this very attainable goal.
Tax-deductible donations can be made at https://outreachutah.nationbuilder.com/utahrep.
Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis, a co-founder of Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center, will be the special guest at an invitation-only champagne brunch “Bare” preview on Sunday, Jan. 11.
Tickets to “Bare” can be purchased at http://utahrep.org/tickets/.
“To gain the most widespread audience for ‘Bare,’ we wanted to team with an organization that was carrying out the message of the show,” said Johnny Hebda, the director of “Bare” and Utah Rep’s artistic director.
“When we learned about OUTreach’s direct efforts to support struggling teens, particularly young people dealing with LGBTQ-related issues, and that this same organization also offers suicide-prevention services, we knew immediately that OUTreach was the best-suited organization.”
“OUTreach Resource Centers provide life-saving services to youth and those affected by homelessness,” said Turner C. Bitton, board treasurer for OUTreach, who is heading the joint fund-raising efforts. “A successful partnership between Utah Rep and OUTreach will allow OUTreach to build a future presence in Salt Lake County and to reach more youth and further our partnerships with organization such as the Utah Pride Center.”
The message of the Off-Broadway musical “Bare” and supporting LGBTQ youths is a natural fit, Hebda said.
“The message of ‘Bare’ is one of empathy,” he said. “Love and acceptance of others despite differences are so important. Religion can be a powerful force, one that we live with daily in Utah. It can be a force for great good – though religion can also lead to judging others, bullying, and pain when others are rejected or condemned, those who do not conform to all of a faith’s tenants or doctrine. Homosexuality is a prominent topic of discussion in the Mormon faith, especially in Utah, and though ‘Bare’ is set in a Catholic high school, the spiritual undertones are a prominent part of the storyline and music, and ones that I connect with very personally.”
Hebda added, “There is no better place than Utah to stage ‘Bare’ where these issues are so prevalent and where the conflict between religion and sexuality remain so complicated. Additional topics such as body image, substance abuse, and bullying are also explored.”
Turner said “Bare” offers a singularly important opportunity to discuss issues that youths in Utah confront. “A stage musical dramatizes many of the experiences that our youth experience,” he said. “The experiences of the various characters mirror what many youth experience on a daily basis.”
According to Hebda, the popularity of “Bare” makes the production additionally important to Utah, where the musical has never been staged previously.
“‘Bare’ has a strong, passionate following among high school-age students, much in the way ‘Rent’ did in the late ’90s early ’00s,” Hebda said. “High school students frequently perform numbers from the show in cabaret nights and revues. The contemporary lyrics and rock score make this musical current and relevant.”
Through its pulsating rock score and emotionally charged story, “Bare” has thrilled and moved audiences around the world since its first staging in Los Angeles over a decade ago.
“Bare” is a coming-of-age story of a group of high school seniors at a co-ed Catholic boarding school, with each struggling to define themselves in the face of their relationships, sexuality, and religion. As they search to come to terms with who they are — and who the world thinks they should be — they seek answers from their church, their friends, and, ultimately, from within themselves. A story of discovery, acceptance and love, the storyline of “Bare” involves a clandestine relationship between two young men who are roommates, along with a few of their close friends. As these characters navigate adolescence, we see the consequences of secrecy unravel though their eyes and those around them.
“I connect to ‘Bare’ very strongly because it is also my personal story,” said Brock Dalgleish, who plays the lead role of Jason. “Growing up Mormon in a family very devoted to the church, I didn’t think it possible to even come out as gay — and I could not have if I had not fallen in love. But I did fall in love, and suddenly a new world was open to me — a new world where I didn’t have to be someone who I wasn’t anymore.”
“I grew up with every single character in the ‘Bare’ script, minus the Catholic school,” said Emilie Eileen Starr, who performs as a character named Ivy. “I was always the person who others told their troubles to. I had friends who talked about committing suicide, who were dealing with pregnancies, and were deciding to come out.
“Teenagers need others who can relate to them, and that’s what we’re hoping that this show does. There is life after this terrible thing called high school.”
“LGBT youth can easily relate to ‘Bare,’ but the show will also be important to any youth struggling with acceptance,” added Dalgleish. “‘Bare’ shows the devastating affects on not being yourself — and not loving yourself. Self-acceptance is very important as a teenager. And in Utah, it’s hard to find that acceptance in this heavily religious environment. ‘Bare’ is a story that needs to be told. People need to hear this story.”
Provocative, raw, and unyielding in its exploration of how today’s generation navigates the tightrope between adolescence and adulthood, “Bare” examines the consequences of baring a soul — or hiding it from those who matter most.
Utah Rep, a wholly 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, will produce Jan. 16-31, 2015, at the company’s resident theater, the newly established Sugar Space Warehouse Theater, 130 S. 800 West in the River District area of Salt Lake City.
For more information on Utah Rep, visit the company website at UtahRep.org.
To make quality theater productions affordable to all Utah residents, Utah Rep sponsors a special Pay As You May performance for each of its five shows per year in its annual season. The “Bare” Pay As You May performance is Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. Additionally, with this production Utah Rep is offering a special performance with $10 tickets available to students with a valid student ID.