Pandora Productions explores the secret lives of Catholic high schoolers this week in the rock opera “Bare,” a dramatic musical about gay and straight boarding school students struggling with their sexuality.
Written by Jon Hartmere, Jr. (book and lyrics) and Damon Intrabartolo (book and music), “Bare” opens Thursday in the Bingham Theatre at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
At St. Cecilia’s Boarding School, altar boy Peter and his roommate Jason keep their love affair quiet, but secrets are threatened when a school production of “Romeo and Juliet” casts their classmates’ fears and unrequited desires into sharp relief.
Critics have compared “Bare” to “Spring Awakening” and “Rent.” Though it has moments of hip levity, it’s an intense drama with a tragic ending.
Producing director Michael Drury hopes the show will spark conversations between young adults and their parents about sex, drugs and family. The company is offering a free ticket to the play for young adults, ages 17-21, who are accompanied by a parent. The offer is good on phone sales only (call 216-5502) using code TEENS.
Because the play is set in a Catholic high school, Drury also thinks people will leave the show thinking and talking about the large role religion plays in the lives of gay teens, too.
“They’re really sort of fighting that authoritarian way of life, while at the same time struggling to balance what the church has taught them and who they really are, and who they want to be,” says Drury.
All Pandora shows typically examine some facet of LGBT life. After a couple of seasons of broad comedies and light musicals, a programming decision the company made in response to the recession, Drury says his patrons were asking for the return of more serious plays like “Bare.”
“Even though the economy hasn’t quite turned the corner for those of us in the arts, what we did hear from our audience is we don’t mind being challenged by dramas,” he says. “We’re glad that we’ve spent at least a year with the fluffy stuff and being more light-hearted, but we’re ready to take on more heavy things”
The show runs through May 20. Pandora will close its season next month with a comedy, Anthony Wilkinson’s “My Big Fat Gay Italian Wedding.”