Some may say that the local theater scene has been slow to catch up to those of other Californian cosmopolitan cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
But Sacramento-based theatre company Artistic Differences is trying to include the state capital as yet another destination for provocative theatre production in California with its performance of bare, a musical chronicling two teenage boys struggling with their sexuality while in a Catholic boarding school.
“Sacramento theatre has been asleep for a long time,“ said Kevin Caravalho, director of the production. “It felt like Sacramento couldn‘t go forward with more thought-provoking [performances]. We said, ‘Let‘s make a show that raises questions,‘ and now we have had critical success. We have sold out [shows] and people are on the waiting list.“
Artistic Differences debuted bare on July 31 at The Space at 2509 R St. in Sacramento. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $15 for students. With nightly sold-out performances, audiences have packed The Space and embraced the theatre company for its willingness to perform risky but entertaining musicals, such as bare.
bare was the brainchild of Jon Harmere Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo. Harmere provided the lyrics while Intrabartolo composed the music. Before coming to Sacramento, bare premiered in October 2000 at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles. In 2004, the musical also made its way to New York.
Originally titled bare: a pop opera, the Sacramento cast believes that it honestly portrays the raw sexuality that dogs the protagonists Jason and Peter. bare eschews the faux high school life portrayed in “90210” or “The Hills.” Instead, it tries to challenge audiences as it delves into the consequences of Jason and Peter forming a relationship that goes against the dogma of society.
“What makes bare unique is that it doesn‘t pull any punches,“ said Ian Cullity, who plays Jason. “The musical just lets everything hang. It‘s called bare because it has a raw attitude.“
Because the characters portray teen angst, Caravalho had to rely on a very young cast. He was initially unnerved because he was uncertain if he could get his young actors to get into character and express the emotions that are called upon by bare. After casting the characters, Caravalho allotted a grace period of several weeks for his actors to summon the intensity required by the plot, and his actors easily took on their parts.
“When you are a younger [actor], you have more walls,“ Caravalho said. “Right off the bat, these kids were so in love with the show. They were willing to go on the journey.“
Caravalho cast UC Davis senior communication major Joshua Robertson to interpret the character Matt, a nemesis of Jason. Robertson, who is also in the campus improv group Birdstrike Theatre, found it easy to get into character for bare because of how much it paralleled aspects of his high school life.
“I went through this as some friends came out,“ Robertson said. “This [musical] is so much about life and identifying with one of the characters or even a piece of each character, because we are all scared to show who we are. The entire cast wanted to reveal each character.“
The production of bare will play at The Space on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until Aug. 30. The Space is located at 2509 R St. in Sacramento. Tickets are available at artisticdifferences.net or call (916) 708-3449.
JACKSON YAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.