This weekend the White Plains Performing Arts Center is producing the Westchester regional premiere of the rock opera "Bare." This musical about a relationship between two boys at a Catholic high school generated a lot of buzz in its previous productions.
I met with Colin Earyes and David Cronin, the two actors playing Jason and Peter, the couple at the heart of Bare to talk about the show and their lives.
What is your theatrical background?
Colin: I went to West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and graduated with a BA in Musical Theater Performance. Since graduating I have performed with various regional theaters, tours, and a world premier musical.
David: I am currently a B.M. student at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College double majoring in Music Education and Voice Performance. I have been fortunate enough to have performed with Nevada Opera, City-Wide Youth Opera, LaGuardia Arts Opera Workshop, Brooklyn College Opera Workshop, the Fresh Fruit Festival, the Fringe Festival, TADA! Youth Theater Co., as well as the Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts. I am currently studying voice with Richard Barrett.
What made you both want to be part of this production of "Bare?"
David: I absolutely love this show, and this show is never done. Fourteen year old me is dying inside that I get to sing this role.
Colin: Before auditioning I didn't know anything about the musical. I had just finished a show in Rhode Island and was looking for auditions. I heard about the show through a friend and since the theater had a great reputation I auditioned.
What have been some of the challenges for you in preparing for your roles?
Colin: The hardest challenge has been finding and expressing the emotional weight of this show. In two hours these characters go through more emotional struggles and turmoil than most people see in a lifetime. The story and message of this show is so incredibly important and beautiful that I wanted to make sure that I became the emotions and not just acted them.
David: Peter is a vocally demanding role and he goes on an emotional roller coaster. Balancing these two factors has been interesting during the rehearsal process.
David, tell me a little about Peter.
David: Peter is a seventeen year old senior at a Catholic boarding school who is in a secret relationship with the school's "golden boy." Peter is a bit of a loner and extremely introverted. Peter is friendly with everyone and no one dislikes him, but Jason is probably the most genuine relationship Peter has ever shared. When we meet Peter he is at a turning point in his life, he is about to graduate and leave this world he's created behind which provokes many questions.
Do you identify with him?
David: I feel extremely connected with Peter. Growing up a homosexual in a Catholic upbringing made me ask a lot of the same questions Peter asks. (I was even an altar boy.) I have to admit though, Peter is far braver than I ever was. He doesn't know how to be anything but himself. It's an honor to play such a brave and young hero who happens to be a homosexual.
Colin, as David mentioned your character Jason is described as a "golden boy" and a “popular jock.” In what ways are you like him?
Colin: Surprisingly I had a very similar high school life as Jason. I was the captain of our hockey team and also was the lead in the school plays. Unfortunately my senior year was also surrounded by a relationship debacle that left me emotionally distraught because of various lies, so I also have that to draw back on for character development.
So Jason is the golden boy, but Peter in many ways is the stronger of the two. David, where do you think his strength comes from?
David: Peter is more of a fully realized person than Jason is. I think this probably comes from their upbringing. Although Peter's mother struggles with her son being a homosexual, she is an extremely nurturing and loving mother. However Jason and his sister Nadia grew up in an environment that was extremely superficial and probably not very affectionate. It explains how Peter could be so brave while Jason who has everything going for him could be so scared.
Jason's story has a rather tragic, and sadly avoidable outcome. Colin, what would you say someone like him who is struggling with his identity?
Colin: Just to accept themselves and that although they feel alone they truly are not. There are always friends to reach out too and understand. There is no need to ever feel alone.
Bare has a fairly large cast, which can sometimes be a challenge for creating a unified ensemble. What has it been like for you? Any cast mates that you've bonded with in particular?
David: Honestly, this cast has been wonderful to work with. I have met some incredible new people of whom I can now call friends. It has been such an honor to work with and get to know Colin Earyes, Triona O'Callaghan, Kerri George, Richie Barella, Adam Welsh, Sarah Teresa Brown and Paulette Oliva.
Colin: Thankfully this cast all arrived with our baggage at the door. We all knew from day one the weight of this show and all came together to deliver that. Most importantly the five leads REALLY clicked. We all take the train back to Manhattan and the chemistry has been there from the start. Besides the fact that they are all extraordinarily talented they are also very genuine friends which helped the chemistry of this show shine through and reach a new level.
What has been your best experience so far in this production?
David: Some of the cast met up to celebrate Pride in New York City and then later that day attended a choreography rehearsal. Needless to say it was unforgettable.
Colin: Sunday. This past Sunday we had our first day of tech and full show run through. Suddenly everything fell into place, the messages and content became real, and by the end of the show the entire cast was so emotionally involved and focused that we were all crying. We saw our show truly come to life for the first time.
What is your favorite song from the show and why?
Colin: The title song, "Bare", is incredible and very powerful, but, my favorite is "Cross." It is the song between Jason and the Priest after Jason's world crashes down around him. The raw ping-ponging of emotions is unlike anything I have ever had to experience before. I go from desperation to hope to sadness, anger, and finally an all around emotional break down all in the span of about 3 1/2 minutes. It takes a lot of honesty and listening to the other performer but the challenge and new emotional experience makes it extremely powerful to perform.
David: "Quiet Night at Home" is a piece that everyone can relate to. You don't have to be the heavy girl to understand or to have had experienced that moment. Triona O'Callaghan slays this song.
What kind of reaction do you hope to get from the audience?
Colin: I would love to bring them to tears, however, if they are just moved because of what they watched and not what they learned and lived through in those two hours then I will not be satisfied. I want the audience to see that these struggles are actually happening throughout the world today and hopefully leave with a new perspective on the severity of these struggles.
David: I hope to inspire. The content of this show is very real. I hope to take them on this emotional trip with me.
Colin, for you what is the takeaway message of the play?
Colin: That being yourself is never not ok. Believe in your own true identity and stay true to yourself.
What else is coming up for you two this year?
Colin: After the show closes it will be back to auditioning. Two of my great friends are getting married in October and I will be singing their wedding so I haven't been auditioning much as so not to conflict with their special day.
David: On August 24th I will be giving a concert at Pier 57 in New York City as a featured up and coming artist with the NYCFiveHundred. I will be performing a small BARE vignette featuring some of the cast in my set.
If you had the chance to play any role, in this play or some other, what would you choose?
David: In "Bare," Ivy, with out a doubt. She is such a multi-layered character and sings some of the best music in the show.
Colin: "Jersey Boys" has always been a favorite show of mine but as of right now Gabe in "Next To Normal" is the role I am hoping to play the most.
For tickets visit the WPPAC website.