It's here!! The final mainstage!! We did it fam! We're alive! - well, mostly. Our final show, and my final blog post and final show at Rutgers, is bare: A Pop Opera, directed by Kat Beliavski. A show about the struggles of sexual and religious identity, friendship, family, love, and getting through the school play, bare is a show you definitely do NOT want to miss.
Peter and Jason are roommates and they're in loooooove. However, it's pretty hard to be queer in a Catholic boarding school, or so I'd imagine. This show brings us through their efforts to keep things quiet, and then to cover it up, and then to leave it. I am aware that sentence was very vague and not even very well-constructed. Come see the show so you can figure out what I was trying to say!
As in the style of a traditional opera, this show is 99% sung through. With 36 songs in the score, all of which are straight fire btw, the cast and pit show incredible talent and skill throughout the whole production. And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the music directors. :)
This show ranges so many different genres that audience members will have no problem finding at least one song they enjoy. We go from sacred latin text in a traditional SATB setting to some rap to a funky gospel beat in one act alone! Of course, there are gonna be favorites among the cast and staff. Mine is a song called "Are You There?" so don't be surprised if I get more into it during that number than any other number. It's fire, you'll see.
I talked to myself in my head and asked about how the musical process went for this show. "Well," I said, "keeping all the key changes and tempo changes and transitions together was one of the most challenging things about bare. I was very out of my element for a while, but my pit members are so lovely and talented that it was so much easier to work through. On the vocal side of things, this show is extremely demanding of our singers. I think Jonah is onstage for like 85% of the show, if that. Pretty much every number will seem like a showstopper to the audience, until the next one starts and then you're like, 'woah, this one is awesome too!!' These songs will make you laugh, and cringe, and connect with the characters in a way that'll leave some of you in tears. Not me, though. Definitely not me. Please don't look at me."
Lauren Burcheri (Labor studies and employment relations with a concentration on law and the workplace, with a double minor in human resource management and music; Senior) (holy crap) is my awesome Co-MD, and I don't know what I would've done without having another human at my side during all of this. "I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with this cast. Each and every one of them has been extraordinarily dedicated to bringing this show to life and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of humans to close out my collegiate career with."
Some of you are probably thinking, 'Man, here's another musical about being in high school, what makes this any different than the others?" and some of you are currently thinking "how is anna all up in mY MIND RN?" Hold the phone, fam. This show is incredible! It takes the conventional idea of high school love triangles (*vom*) and intertwines it with issues like social identity, religious identity, substance abuse (*spoiler), and having weird dreams. The characters are all so distinct, and they carry you through the plot so smoothly, you don't even see the end coming.
Gabby Talvacchia (History and Political Science, Junior) is such a cool cat that this is her second time doing this show! "It's cool doing a show for the second time because even though I've done the show before, this production has still been a completely new experience. The first time I did bare I was in the ensemble, but my favorite part of doing this show this time around has been being able to explore Ivy's character and see the show through her perspective. I am nothing like Ivy in real life and I was really intimidated by this role at first. But it has been an amazing experience going so far out of my comfort zone."
Jillian Hanna (Theatre and Psychology, Senior) plays one of the more complex characters in the show. "My character is the heavy-set, sarcastic punk/goth chick who kind of feels out of place because of her size. She's got lots of talent but is often overlooked for roles because of the way she looks. This pretty much describes a large portion of my theatrical experiences thus far. I don't want to give too much away, but she also deals with some traumatic stuff that i have been through. I find it a little insane how deeply i connect with this character--having these connections with her has pushed me to be more vulnerable and go even further in my crafting."
Cast members and character roles coincide more than once in this group. Paolo Arceo (Psychology and Theatre, Junior) has apparently been "method acting this role since I came out the womb. Matt and I are the same in the sense that we continuously try so hard to be great but always come second to people who effortlessly are talented. I'm also "good" at everything but still not amazing at anything. Tbh, if it's sad and Matt went through it, i probably did too. Love you, Matt. #mattlivesmatter" This response to my question was so extra, and really not indicative of how he plays this role in the show. Come see how Paolo SLAYS in this show, and see why his words are wrong.
Any show comes with good times and speed bumps that we need to get over, and this show was no exception. Nic Noa told me about his high and low during the process. "My favorite part of this process has got to be experiencing the wide range of emotions that Jason feels throughout the show. He makes some very bold and questionable choices throughout the course of the show, and finding reasons to justify why he's making these choices has helped me understand Jason much better as a person."
And as for his biggest challenge? "Getting used to the space of Cabaret Theatre. My high school was brand new with an auditorium that held 800 and the stage was pretty far from the audience. I performed on that stage for 4 years and Cabaret is the polar opposite. What I'm learning to love about Cabaret is that it's so intimate- the audience is so close that they can literally reach out and touch the actors. The intimacy of Cabaret has required me to adjust myself as an actor since the audience can see everything that happens on stage."
Amy Cruz (English, Freshman) plays Peter's Mom, and seems to have had a great time! "My favorite part of being in the show has been really getting to know the awesome people at Cabaret. I've grown close to the cast and staff, and because of them I absolutely cannot wait to continue to be a part of Rutgers student theater!"
Kat Beliavski (Theatre Arts, Senior) talks about her fav part too - "I guess the most rewarding part of directing this production is seeing everyone finding their moments in the show. Every day, someone tries something new and it just works. The ensemble and featured roles don't get lost in this musical like they tend to in others. The cast is an absolute joy to watch and I think everyone that comes to see the show won't be able to take their eyes off Katie Siegel being deliciously awful as Diane."
She also went into talking about the prostaff, but I'm not sure she said everything she wanted to say about everyone (peep the last sentence). "This Pro Staff is honestly unbelievable. This is such a massive show and it would be impossible without a group of individuals as dedicated and talented as these humans. David and Lulu are a great team, Alex is our go-to guy for pretty much anything (he was seeing a costume two minutes ago and is currently subbing in for someone on stage since he's the understudy for every character), Lauren came to our first meeting with over 15 pages of notes (not an exaggeration), and Anna's also okay I guess. "
Like the songs, you'll be able to connect with at least one of these characters at some point in the show because honestly, who didn't have issues without finding yourself in high school?
Bare. Bear? No, it's definitely bare. The whole vision for this show is centered around the idea that everyone is left so vulnerable by the end. The set is follows the minimalistic style, with benches serving more than one purpose in the show. The cast wears uniforms. And in this small, black box, the show's aesthetic allows your imagination to be engaged throughout. The lights are really freaking cool, too, just saying, and were the ain reason why our headshots all look the way they do - Paolo and Kat wanted it to look like stained glass.
One of the things I look for when watching a show is what it's trying to tell me. What's the message?
Director Kat Beliavski said, "I think bare has a lot of messages. That's what makes it so great. And it might sound like a cliche, but being your true self is probably one of the most important ones. To be honest with yourself, It's that simple. The lives of all five leads are laid bare by the end of the show for everyone to see and Peter emerges as a beacon of honesty and the one person that is willing to be fully happy with himself just as he is. I really admire his character a lot and hope the audience is able to learn something from his journey. But also bears. The main point is bears."
Yeah, guys, look for the bear cameo in the middle of the show, it really takes the plot for a ride :)
Jillian Hanna wants "people to leave this show questioning their beliefs and intentions in life. I want them to understand that having more of an open mind is something that all of us need to work on--but ESPECIALLY if we have been raised in households that are more closed-minded due to cultural or religious standards. we should all consistently question ourselves and be able to adapt to our ever-changing world."
Gabby thinks that "bare shows us the importance of being true to yourself. Almost everyone at some point in their lives struggles with trying to fit into certain surrounding, whether it be at school, church, or even your own family. A show like bare reminds us that you don't have to go through life trying to be someone you're not, there are always going to be people out there that accept and love you for you."
THIS SHOW IS AMAZING, COME SEE IT UGH
Do the Thing
You've got Barely any time to get your tickets before the opening of the show, so get on it, ya goonz! Tickets are available online as well as in person at Cabaret Theatre - but there are only a limited number being sold at the door, so buy them early!!
Well, that was my last post I guess. Check me out in a few weeks when I blubber on about how much this place means to me and then I say bye to this whole institution or whatever. See you at the show! :)