Bare: The Rock Musical!

bare rock musical
Adam Wollerton

Greenwich Theatre Bares All This October! Part One: In rehearsals with Michael Vinsen and the cast of Bare: The Rock Musical!

 

“An emotional roller coaster in a real world…” is how Michael Vinsen, who plays lead character Peter, describes the show. This musical is raw, truthful, and does not shy away from the harsh realities of the world of the 90s. Teenage angst, forbidden love, and the temptation of drugs, are just a few of the issues raised by this latest envisioning of Damon Intrabartolo and John Hartmere in Bare: The Rock Musical!

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a rehearsal for the show recently and privileged to have seen the company working together. It was truly great. The bond between the company, and the detail being implemented by their choreographer, Richard Jones, was brilliant. Bo Frazier, Associate Director for the production, said that the current production is taking it back to the original manuscript. There are 36 songs in the production, and with a brand new cast, apart from the two leads, this is no easy feat to recreate the show ready for Greenwich Theatre on the 9th October.

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Vinsen says the process of drafting in the new cast has been “exciting”, Bo Frazier deemed the additions to the show as “taking it to the next level”, and recent Arts Ed graduate Ashley Gilmour embraces the role of being cover Jason stating “the task of learning my own track, and then discovering the part of Jason too has been tough, but it’s good to challenge myself as an actor.” Gilmour will take to the stage at least five times as Jason during the run of the production, but Ross Wild takes the lead role permanently at Greenwich after their run at The Union earlier this year.

So… What is Bare about? The story follows a group of Catholic Boarding School students in their teenage years as they endure a journey of self discovery, battling with their identity, their sexuality, and even their religion. Bare is gritty. Whilst discussing the show’s themes with Vinsen and Gilmour, it became apparent that the show is different to other musicals out there. As much as light-hearted and comedy musicals are fun, Bare presents us with the truth and isn’t afraid to tackle real life issues head on.

It is easy to deem Bare a show about gay love, but Vinsen insists the show is more than that, saying that the show is about love regardless of sexuality. The show explores the notion of love and one way this is presented is in Jason, the seemingly straight lead, who just happens to fall in love with Peter. When discussing the idea of gay love with Vinsen and Gilmour, they revealed that they had even discussed how Jason may not be gay. He just happens to have fallen for this boy, Peter. The idea that this love is forbidden, and even perceived as a sin, is presented when the two leads are seen to kiss by Jason’s friend Matthew. Should he confess and tell people about the kiss or should he keep it a secret? This precedes the scene that the company were rehearsing that day that I attended. The song was ‘Confession’ and it was great to watch.

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The attention to detail that Richard Jones enforces, combined with his keen eye and the eagerness of his cast to learn and achieve perfection, led to a very gripping and engaging performance. And this is only rehearsals. The vocals too, although I imagine not completely full out in rehearsal, showed great promise. The tune to the song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

It is easy to compare a show like Bare to a show like RENT, with similar themes and a musical score. However, the youth of the show and its contents make it more relatable to a young generation than RENT – and a generation that is likely to form most of the audience for this production. Vinsen and Gilmour agreed that the one big attraction to the show is the fact it is so current and can be related to by many people – straight or gay. This led me to ask what had attracted the two guys to the production in the first place.

Vinsen stated that he has idolised the role of a Peter for a long time as a musical theatre student but felt that he could personally relate to the character and reflect on his own personal experiences too. He mused that Gilmour had experienced his first gay kiss last week in rehearsals for scenes between Peter and Jason. Gilmour replied to say he was keen to embrace the role and rise to the challenge as a recent graduate tackling his first role.

If you have seen the poster for Bare or even just heard the name and are now wondering, what is it even about?! Hopefully, you are a little more aware. I did pose the question to the two company members – What does the show’s title mean to you?

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Vinsen said the show is stripped back and emotions are displayed openly. Gilmour added that nothing is held back and the show explores everything from sexuality to drugs and even suicide. But don’t worry, Vinsen assures us the show isn’t as depressing as it sounds, just more exploratory and open than perhaps some other shows are today. I will reserve my judgment until I have seen the production, but after observing rehearsal and being privileged with the company of Michael Vinsen, Ashley Gilmour, and the company behind Bare, I am sure that the musical will deliver everything promised by its successful run at the union but also take it to the next level with their new team as they step into Greenwich Theatre.

I would just like to say a quick thank you to Bo Frazier, Mark Senior, Richard Jones, Michael Vinsen, Ashley Gilmour, and the Company of Bare for allowing me to attend their rehearsal.

 

Book your tickets now here. Follow @bare_greenwich.

See you in a few weeks at Greenwich! Break a leg!