Bare (with a book by Jon Hartmere, Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo, lyrics by Hartmere and music by Intrabartolo) had its world premiere at the Hudson Theater in Los Angeles, CA, where it began performances Oct. 14, 2000. What was intended to be a six-week run turned into six months, and the production closed in L.A. Feb. 25, 2001. Following the Los Angeles production, bare began its run at the American Theatre of Actors (Chernuchin Theatre) March 25, 2004. It opened April 19, 2004, and played through May 27, 2004.
PHOTO SPECIAL: Looking Back at Bare's Off-Broadway Debut, With Michael Arden and John Hill
The piece — which, in 2004, was subtitled a Pop Opera — was slated to make the leap from a developmental run at American Theatre of Actors to Dodger Stages (now New World Stages) that fall; the transfer never happened, and a wider audience — including many who had heard buzz about it or seen its earlier version in Los Angeles — never made it to the hallowed halls of St. Cecilia's Boarding School.
Now, years later, cast members from the original Los Angles and New York productions look back. They remember their auditions and share their favorite memories — from onstage mishaps to backstage shenanigans to learning of the show's halt and Damon Intrabartolo's sudden passing at age 39.
Click through to read more from the bare company and see never-before-seen photos directly from the cast! The casts (along with members from the 2012 Off-Broadway revival at New World Stages) reunite tonight at 54 Below.
John Griffin (Jason McConnell, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I remember my ridiculous outfit! I was in my 20s trying to look 17, so at that time, I somehow thought that meant baggy yellow parachute pants draping over blue sketcher sneakers, a long-sleeve white thermal and an orange vest. How Kristin, Damon and Hartmere were able to see past that I have no idea… And I sang "She's Got A Way" by Billy Joel as my audition song.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? My favorite onstage memory involves Keili Lefkovitz, the original Nadia. Every night after John Torres and I sang "You and I," we would cross paths onstage "in the locker area" as I was exiting and she was entering — and every show, she shoved something in my hand in full sight of everyone if they were paying attention, but no one ever caught it. She made it very hard not to break as those things ranged from tampons to trolls to toilet paper… Her imagination was endless. The other tradition she and I had was every night after I sang "Once Upon A Time," she would wait for me backstage, and we would have a somber high five with no words spoken.
Onstage mishaps? YES! Early in the run, Wallace Smith (original Matt) and I got a little overzealous in our fight right before Matt outs Jason, and I ended up flying backwards, landing badly and spraining my wrist. And then closing night, during the rave scene, someone fell backwards into the confessional, jamming the door shut. They told me that "Cross" in Act 2 might therefore present a problem, as I'm supposed to sit in that confessional. Well, sure enough, I get out there, and I could not get the door open. So I walked over to Mark Edgar Stephens' (the original Priest) side of the confessional that was working and I said, "We're doing this one new-school, father." And I sat down and leaned my back against the outside of the jammed door. He did the same, and that's how the final performance of "Cross" was performed in L.A. — face to face. It was actually a beautiful moment. One of those "mistakes" that you end up grateful for.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? Too many favorite backstage moments to name. There were only two dressing rooms for our entire huge cast, so it was the best kind of fun chaos. And so many people came to the show in terms of the Hollywood crowd, and they were great, but the people I enjoyed meeting the most were the kids who waited for us afterwards.
Favorite offstage memory? Probably the GLAAD Awards — MTV got us a suite at the Century Plaza for an after-party, and there are pictures somewhere of shoeboxes plastered to Keili's head and unspeakable things draped over Jenna and I. Where the shoeboxes and these party favors came from no one knows. But when you put a cast of almost 30 young people, plus crew and production team, in one suite with a lot of free alcohol, some stuff is gonna happen. ☺
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then... or maybe still does today? From "Bare" — "…a moment of such peace, knowing what you mean to me." To anyone who has been in love, I think that recognition of the inner peace it brings is so beautiful. I think Damon and Jon nailed that with that lyric, and it's so beautiful that Jason is the one singing it because he never got to live it, but at least we know he felt what that was like for at least one moment.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… We were all babies. That's what I remember. Damon and I had an interesting relationship, but ultimately one of mutual respect and care. He gave me a lot of shit, but it came from love, and I'm eternally grateful to him for allowing me to be part of the formation of bare. He hated that I would pause in "Once Upon To Time" to "act" as he called it. "Just sing the notes — no pausing!" It was an ongoing refrain/joke. Because he'd have to follow me on the keyboards if I was having a moment, and it wasn't always in the same place, and it drove him crazy — in a good way. Also, Kristin was beautiful working with John Torres and I. We were very nervous as neither of us had ever kissed a guy before, and she set up this whole beautiful evening that she chaperoned and made us feel so safe. She's an amazing talent. And I laugh thinking back about how Hartmere would always apologize right before giving us a new lyric. And yes, it was a world premiere, but it was also a workshop, so he totally had the right to be changing things as we went. But the very young cast, myself included, would get freaked out getting a new lyric ten minutes before we had to sing the song, so we gave him a lot of crap, and he was INCREDIBLY patient.
Interesting stage-door experience? Every night with the kids. I will never forget that. They would come up to us and say, "I'm going to come out to my parents because of you." Or "You all changed my life." Or "I've never fit in, and I'm seeing myself up there, and I don't want to go down that road." But mostly, it was these young kids saying, "Thank you." And also parents saying, "Thank you." I could get emotional just typing this. To this day, and probably for the rest of my career, that first production of bare at the Hudson Theatre will be the most important and most meaningful piece of art I've done.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… To be my true self. It's that simple. I think that's the message of bare. The lives of all five leads are laid bare by the end of the show — faults and secrets are exposed as Peter emerges as a beacon of honesty and the one person that is willing to be fully happy with himself just as he is.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I'm based in L.A., and I am an actor/writer/producer. As an actor, I just booked a recurring principal role on "The Young and the Restless," have two films coming out in 2016 that I'm grateful to figure prominently in and have guest starred on a lot of primetime dramas. Last year, I was psyched to get to work with Clint Eastwood when I played "Billy Dixon" in Clint's feature version of "Jersey Boys" which allowed me to both act and sing on film. As a writer, I sold an hour drama to Lionsgate Television last year, had a deal with a producer at NBC a couple of years before that on a single camera half hour comedy and just finished writing, directing, editing and starring in a new half-hour dark comedy called "Hater" that I am shopping to networks right now. And in terms of musical theatre, I was lucky to be asked to do the L.A. revival of bare at the Hayworth Theatre in 2013, this time playing the role of the Priest, which really brought my journey with bare full circle.
John J. Torres (Peter Simmonds, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? To be honest, I don't remember all that much about auditioning. I met Damon while playing Jesus in a UCLA production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Damon was the music director of the show, and we hit it off. Before I knew it, I became Peter in the Hudson production. The details are all a blur! Haha!
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Too many to be counted. But certainly making out with another guy onstage in front of my Italian immigrant grandfather was definitely a highlight.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? In general, the antics backstage of that show were non-stop. And you would be going from total goofballery (a term I just coined) to instantly snapping into intense drama. It was hilarious.
Favorite offstage memory? At the time of our run, myself and John Griffin were ironically the only two straight guys in the cast (John has since abandoned me). To raise awareness for the show, one night Damon brought a small group of us to a West Hollywood bar to sing karaoke from the show. I've never felt more like fresh meat in my life. It was hilarious. I got thrown in the gay deep end, and it was such a fun night.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? I tear up every five lines of that show. But a few moments that stand out…
1. Every line of "See Me."
2. And I know Shakespeare is a co-writer here, but "Queen Mab" is a pairing of music and lyric that was and is still so touching to me. Truly gorgeous.
3. Every line of "Bare."
4. Every line of every other song!
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Again, way too many to list. It was such a special time in all of our lives, and every person fit in in such a special way. Could never be duplicated.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… That a team of people is always going to be more powerful, more amazing and more beautiful than any individual could ever be.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I am a songwriter and recording artist. Still living in L.A., somehow making music for a living, a husband and a father. And extremely grateful for all of the above.
Jenna Leigh Green (Ivy Robinson, Los Angles and New York casts)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? Well… If you can believe it, Damon and Jon found me singing karaoke. We had some mutual friends who knew they were looking for a girl to play Ivy in an early staged reading… A bunch of us would gather once a week for karaoke night, and the boys came out one night. The rest, as they say, is history!
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? As sappy as it sounds, every memory is a favorite. This show was such a huge part of my life…from the early staged readings (which may or may not have been pretty terrible… haha) to opening the show in Los Angeles with a line around the block for most every show and audience members sitting on the theatre stairs (don't tell the fire marshals). The move to NYC brought a whole new life to the show and a whole new group of forever friends. The shenanigans that existed onstage and off are enough to fill a book…
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? Both the Hudson Theatre in L.A. and the ATA Theatre in NYC were tiny spots with crazy, cramped communal dressing rooms. Any modesty was left at the stage door! Hahaha! In L.A., things were so cramped we would sneak outside during intermission just to cool off and breathe for a moment. The amazing thing is, no one cared! We truly loved each other and had such a genuine love for the show, the process and each other. We just piled on top of each other and charged through the show each night.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Damon was a force to be reckoned with. He was also completely infuriating! You could love/hate him all at the same time. He was truly one of the most remarkable human beings I've ever been fortunate to know, and I miss him every day. Knowing that he left this show, performed all over the world with such a phenomenal fan base, fills me with so much joy!
Interesting stage-door experience? The fans of the show were amazing. Teenagers and adults alike, so genuinely touched by it. I will add though that there were quite a few stage door fans who did NOT like Ivy… and had a hard time separating Jenna from Ivy. I may have gotten some shade from time to time. Hahaha!
Something you learned about yourself from bare… Ha! I learned a lot about myself, that's for sure. But, mostly, I learned that I am a strong woman who can handle challenges and obstacles. I moved to NYC with this show, the greatest city ever, to begin a journey and to grow up. I learned how to stand on my own and not to be afraid. I think that's more than I could ever have asked for.
Jon Hartmere (book and lyrics)
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Favorite onstage memory was Kristin going on as a student in Los Angeles because we didn't have enough swings. Seeing her in a backpack, mouthing the lyrics and trying to navigate the insane choreography required to maneuver the group scenes on the Hudson's 99-seat stage (21 cast members! Band onstage!).
Favorite mishap… In, I think, the closing show in L.A., John Griffin (Jason) had his big scene with Mark Edgar Stevens (the Priest), where he comes out to him. Mark was seated in the confessional, and John went to enter, but found his door was stuck. Stuck stuck. The boy tried everything. It just. Wouldn't. Open. In my head, I see him with his foot braced against the confessional frame and ripping with both hands. All in this very intimate moment. He never gave up, never broke character (such a Jason…). He finally just decided to sit cross-legged in front of the confessional and do the scene from there. As you sometimes do. In church. When you're locked out of confession.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? At an early staged reading in Los Angeles, I remember looking over and seeing Judith Light in the audience and thinking, "This is everything."
Favorite offstage memory? Pre-L.A. — getting on a plane with Damon to go to New York with our concept album and going door-to-door to every big producer to leave a CD with a confused receptionist. No idea what we were doing. Like the Muppets in "Muppets Take Manhattan." Then going back to where we were staying and staring at the phone, wondering, "This is so weird…why aren't they calling?" New York — Reunion.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Watching Kristin and Stafford [Arima, who directed the 2012 Off-Broadway revival] steer. Being amazed at how unflappable and inclusive and creative they were with problem-solving. Songs written with both Lynne and Damon that, in the fresh light of day, we thought, "NOBODY CAN EVER SEE THIS WHAT WERE WE THINKING." The passion of every producer of every iteration who helped move the show forward.
Interesting stage-door experience? In New York, really young kids coming up after the show to say it changed their lives.
Something you learned about yourself from bare... I came out while writing bare. I didn't learn I was gay. But I learned it was okay...
Kristin Hanggi (director, Los Angeles and New York)
What do you remember from auditions? There's so many audition memories that I have! For some reason, what comes to mind first is the orange vest John Griffin wore when auditioned for Jason. I think Damon teased John about that vest for years.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? I remember getting emotional when we first staged "No Voice" in Los Angeles. I remember it was a hot Saturday morning, and we were in a small theatre in West Hollywood, and as we went through the staging, I got all choked up. I also remember loving tech at the Hudson because we had three moving lights, and I remember that feeling like a big deal! I loved those three moving lights!
In terms of onstage mishaps, as the show extended at the Hudson, we had a sickness that started taking cast members out. One night we had 11 people out of the cast, I remember my lighting assistant and I both went on! I think it was the last night I wore a Catholic girl skirt.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? With both L.A. and Off-Broadway ATA, I always loved watching the excitement of the cast backstage. This show always became personal to whomever was performing it. And there was just something so extraordinary about watching the families that were formed backstage on both coasts.
Favorite offstage memory? I have SO MANY, here are a few:
When Damon would write a new song and have me over, and I'd sit on his piano bench and listen to it. That was my favorite place to be. Just writing that made me remember, there are three notes in "911! Emergency!" that he knew I loved, and wherever we were, when he played that song, he'd make eye contact with me as he played them.
I especially remember the day he gave me a CD, in which he had recorded "Queen Mab" on it. I listened to it in my car for the first time. I immediately pulled over and called him. I thought it was the most beautiful thing. I remember I dreamed the staging because I played it over and over again before I fell asleep.
Lastly, I met Hillary Weaver, who was producing the show next door at the Hudson. The haze from our production was wafting its way into their theatre. She was like, "Who are these kids doing this musical?" She came and saw the show, loved it and brought her husband to the show. She and I became dear friends and still work together to this day. Her husband, Matt Weaver, was the lead producer on Rock of Ages. That one meeting and friendship changed my whole life.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "If you hide from yourself, be someone else for someone else's sake. That could be the greatest mistake." ("God Don't Make No Trash")
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Anytime Damon would want to discuses notes with me, he'd pull me into the girls bathroom at the Hudson. It was like our ritual.
Interesting stage-door experience? I just remember when Broadway producers started coming to our Hudson Theatre production in L.A. as well as Hollywood studio heads. There was this feeling that something was happening, and we had no idea what it was… The show started spreading like wildfire...
Something you learned about yourself from bare... bare was the show where I learned who I was as a director. It discovered me, and it grew me up. bare is one of the biggest gifts life ever gave me.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? So many!
Keili Lefkowitz (Nadia McConnell, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I actually was shooting a film called "Scrapbook" that Damon and Debbie Lurie were working on — and I had to lay some tracks down for the soundtrack. During the session Damon said, "That's the voice of Nadia — I want you to do this show I wrote," and that was that. Over the next several years, we did concert albums and staged readings before ultimately mounting the original production at the Hudson in Los Angeles.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Every night during "You and I," I would bring John Griffin a "gift" while he was singing the song. Things like Tampax, dildos, fake poop, etc.… It was always nice watching him have to deal with these prizes in his hand throughout the rest of the number.
Any onstage mishaps? I believe I once danced my ass off so hard during "Birthday Bitch" that I fell into the confessional…therefore lodging the door shut so that during the number "Confession," the doors wouldn't open. This was our closing show. Jason and the Priest had to do the entire number outside as if they couldn't see each other. Eventually they said, "F*ck it" and did the number face to face, which was beautiful… So, John Griffin/Mark Edgar Stevens… you're welcome?
Favorite backstage moment? Pip Lightstone and I would be in complete and full-blown tears and embrace backstage every night before "No Voice." I always loved spending that time with him.
Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? Meeting any kid or parent that were affected positively by the story was so rewarding and such an honor to do night after night.
Favorite offstage memory? Welllllll… I think there possibly were some things that happened the night of the GLAAD Awards that we can't un-see.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "Quiet Night at Home" gets me every time…every damn time. I think Nadia's lament in the number is universal to us all.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Loved this group of f*ckers so much, I named my cat after Wallace Smith (L.A.'s Matt)… also gave cats to half the crew. I don't even like cats… As for the people that I was lucky enough to work with for so long on this piece, I will love them fiercely for all time. Damon in particular… He was the funniest, loveliest, most offensive kind-hearted genius I've ever known.
Interesting stage-door experience? More like interesting back-door experience… (See any of the L.A. cast members' responses for admissions of hook ups.)
Something you learned about yourself from bare… That after bringing/eating boxes of Chicken in the Bisket's with me on stage every night during our run, I can tell you that there's no chicken that bisket.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? Based in L.A., I'm currently shooting two films, "From Zero to I Love You" and "Losing in Love." I'm also writing an animated feature as well as developing various other projects such as "The Redhead Series," a bestselling book series from Simon & Schuster.
Wallace Smith (Matt Lloyd, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? We were at the Hudson main stage on Santa Monica Blvd. Damon, Kristin and others sat and listened to me sing "Are You There." I remember being paired up with the rest of the cast, waiting outside with these people I had no idea I would be working with. It was a big deal to me because this was my first professional gig.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Jason Henkel as that angel with those wings (LOL), "The Rave" sequence, listening to John Torres kill "Role of a Lifetime" and our closing show in Los Angeles. We wept the entire show.
Favorite offstage memory? The photo shoot that we did at UCLA! Oh my gosh! I'll never forget that autumn day. I remember feeling like this was real, and I was one of the cool kids. Thank you, Damon, Jon and Kristin.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "But I don't know where I'm going, and I don't have any guide." – "Are You There?"
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Damon was a force. He wasn't just a gifted talented person, but a force. He would come into a space and bring life to it. His words, his quietness at times, his love and joy for people.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… To accept and love people regardless of beliefs, experiences and differences.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I've been living in New York for the last nine years and have been so blessed to do some Broadway, some TV, but most of all to be apart of a community that supports the arts.
Philip Dean Lightstone (Lucas Carter, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I got involved with bare in 1998, when I auditioned for the concept album. The auditions were down at USC, and I remember driving down there straight from waiting tables (still in my uniform and smelling like California Pizza Kitchen). I had never auditioned for a brand-new, still-in-development show, so I sang what any under-prepared, self-respecting 18-year-old would sing: "Circle of Life."
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? My favorite memory was also the most heartbreaking. Every show I had a moment with the phenomenal Keili Lefkovitz during "No Voice" as we made our way through our graduation processional. I will never forget the feeling I would get during that moment. My heart would just break. I was never able to finish singing that song.
On the flip side, for most of the rest of the show, we were just kids being kids. I was definitely the class clown out there and would always try to mix up my ad-libs and make people laugh. I know, bad actor! My favorite mishap didn't actually involve me though, and it's been a while, but Charity Hill tripping and falling into the pews after an insanely fast quick change, with a live mic, is probably my favorite.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? I remember one time we were down so many people, and our swings were already playing two or three people, that Kristin Hanggi put on her St. Cecilia's best and played with us onstage, which was amazing. Now backstage, because it was so tiny back there and there were so many of us, we had just as much choreography there as on stage. The whole show we were constantly yelling at her, "You can't stand there! So-and-so has a quick change — or an entrance — or is throwing a prop."
Favorite offstage memory? There are too many to count. The show brought me the best friends I have ever had and continue to have. Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "Hear my voice." That's really all everyone wants.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Damon really was… He was so dry, brutally honest. He had so much love for the material, and it seemed so cathartic for him that you were always inspired — unless he was making fun of you. Kristin was such an amazing director. I had never worked with a director who could so easily translate her vision to a group of actors and make it feel organic. Jon Hartmere was typecast as the quiet writer, but he would always have something funny to say, if you were close enough to hear it, and Eric Anderson really was the glue that kept everyone together and sounding amazing.
Interesting stage-door experience? I'm sure it involved vodka.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… bare taught me that love, compassion, honesty and living your truth are really what life is all about. It also taught me that family is not only who you are related to but those who you have shared your heart and soul with. The bare family is my family.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I'm back in L.A. after a long stint with the Wicked tour and still doing new productions there. Life is good!
Mark Edgar Stephens (Priest, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I had recently come off of the tour for Sunset Boulevard, and so Kristin naturally asked me to sing, "Sunset Boulevard." I pulled up all of my Joe Gillis swagger and belted out the song filling the room with sound and movement. Kristin smiled, paused, and then asked me to sing it again without acting. Ha, ha! I got it then that bare was to be set in a different world from the big splashy musicals, one that was very real and even in its intensity, tender. It may have been the best version of "Sunset Boulevard" I ever sang because Kristin was envisioning a story that was stripped down, free of artifice and simply, bare.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Perhaps my favorite onstage moment was during the finale because it truly was different every performance. As each student would come out to receive their diploma singing "Dear Jason," I got to shake their hands and really connect with them, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart. My job was to be the "knowing adult, authority figure." However, the raw emotions of each of those actors coming toward me every night was palpable. I'd find myself holding back tears (or not) at different times and with different characters. It was such a real, honest moment that would often catch me by surprise — all of the way through the run, without exception. It's rare in a long run to feel something uniquely different in every performance.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? We were this surprise hit and it seemed that everyone in Los Angeles was coming to see us. There were celebrities in the audience most every night, and representatives from all of the big agencies were there. Despite how overwhelming that might have been, my favorite backstage moments were the quiet, intimate moments with the cast and crew that happened nightly. Everyone was there because they wanted to be there. I was the oldest male, and I was going through a bit of a rough moment in my life. All of that young, hopeful, creative energy was just what I needed to come back to life, and it was there and given so freely throughout the run.
Favorite offstage memory? The parties were amazing. Charity Hill was a sort of unofficial social organizer for all of us, and whether we were at her house or around the corner or hanging outside after the show, it was always a great time.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "God Don't Make No Trash," and no one could drive this point home better than Stephanie Anderson. She felt it and she delivered every performance.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Damon was this uncensored, crazy genius who had a mouth that was sharp, funny and foul. I loved it, and I loved him. I admired how brazen he could be and how honestly he expressed himself. Kristin was the calm, loving presence that helped us to trust even when trusting the raw, newness of what we were doing was challenging. She could break things down into simple creative nudges that still allowed us to express authentically. Jon was the silent seer who watched knowingly and processed differently from the other creatives. I always found it interesting to watch him during rehearsals for the subtle emotions that would signal that something was working or not. Deborah Lurie was one of the unsung geniuses of the group. Sometimes we'd get new arrangements, and the new arrangement would somehow inform how we told the story differently. She'd sit there with a little pleasant smile on her face, and I knew that her contributions were foundational for the show. It is still amazing to me how an arrangement can so dramatically change the context of a song or scene.
Interesting stage-door experience? Without a doubt, the thing that sticks with me is the multitude of times some young person would be waiting after the show with tears streaming down their face waiting for me to hug them. They would share how similar their high school experience had been to what they had felt onstage; the secrets, the shame, the hiding and the search for absolution. Though in my role as the Priest I couldn't give what was needed to help Jason, here offstage, long after the fact, I was somehow a stand-in for the adult or authority figure with whom select audience members were craving to be able to share a moment of true compassion and care. Those offstage moments with those people I did not know, but got to hold for a few brief moments, are some of my most powerful memories of performing in bare.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… I learned that sitting quietly and listening is sometimes the strongest, most powerful thing we can do.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? Shortly after bare, I went back to NYC and then, unexpectedly, a career in TV started. That brought be back to Los Angeles, and now I write, create, direct and produce. I recently finished production on a documentary, and I'm currently pitching a scripted project entitled, "Welcome To Our Mansion." In my off time, I work as a coach to other creative artists — actors, singers, writers, directors and visual artists — and when it is possible, I get my butt onstage and perform. For several years now, I have been working with the The Lythgoe Family at the Pasadena Playhouse doing the yearly Pantos. It is some of the most fun I've ever had, and I've gotten to work with amazing artists like Ben Vereen, Bruce Vilanch, and Fred Willard. Life is good!
Charity Hill (Tonya Garrett, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? I remember getting a call from co-author and playwright, Jon (Hartmere) asking me to audition for "this lil' show" he and Damon (Intrabartolo) were producing. At the time I was working on a television show called "Sister, Sister," but for some reason, the very next day I found myself racing from Paramount Studios to the Hudson Theatre (in rush hour) memorizing sides along the way. I recall getting so wrapped up in the scene with Lucas (Phillip Lightstone) at callbacks that we literally kissed each other on stage. Total strangers. AWKWARD… Later Kristin (Hanggi) told us it was our onstage chemistry that sealed our fate. He and I have been besties ever since.
What did you sing? I don't recall what song I prepared, and apparently it wasn't that memorable because Damon had one of his impromptu "composer" moments where he decided to run down the aisle, hop onto the piano, throw a piece of sheet music at me and direct. "Take five, come back, and if you can hit that F, gurl, I will see you at callbacks." Luckily, I had a glass of wine to loosen the pipes beforehand, so that is exactly what I did!
What is your favorite onstage memory? Our cast was full of pranksters. We always tried to make each other break character on stage during somber moments (consummate professionals, of course). It was always during the slow motion tableau of "Rehearsals" and usually involved a ridiculous clipboard sketch by Camilla Ghedini. Without fail, it would send tears streaming down our cheeks trying to hold in the laughter at just the right moment to cry on cue. I am fairly certain that sketch will make an appearance at the concert this week to lighten the mood, though we won't need any help with flowing tears.
Any onstage mishaps? For those who know and have worked with me (producers and directors, skip this part), they all know I am notoriously late. One fateful Sunday matinee, my tardiness spilled over into the show. I was upstairs in my dressing room chatting away when I heard my stage cue for "Wonderland" over the monitor. I split leaped over Diane (Jennie Kwon), toppled down the stairs, tripped over a pew to enter: stage left. I literally fell onto the stage and crawled to my desk next to Ivy (Jenna Leigh Green) just in time to sing "Professor." I still have the scar, and yes, I am a dancer.
Favorite backstage moment? Every night I would breathe a sigh of relief when I saw my best friend Kyra (Tassa Hampton) smiling opposite me in the stage wings because it meant that we both actually made our 3.4-second quick change from student to angel for "911 Emergency!" Though we both had three dressers each, opening night was the first and one of the only times we successfully made our cue without the orchestra having to vamp an additional few bars to Damon's dismay. #moltedwings
Favorite offstage memory? I hosted a Halloween party after opening, where I gifted the cast and crew a custom bottle of "bare" wine with a label that read "cork in New York." Sharing the last bottle together this week will be bittersweet, much like our vintage vino. Better with age right?
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? The entire show resonates more with me now than ever. It was truly ahead of its time. I am not sure I understood the magnitude of the subject, nor the gravity of what our collective "voice" meant to those who didn't feel they had one. So "No Voice" is the most poignant for me. What a blessing to be able to use our art to affect change and the stage as our platform to cast a spotlight on the deadly destruction of bullying and sexual discrimination.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… bare: the musical was a coming-of-age story written by dear friends, with whom I attended college. What started as four weeks turned into 40, and then a lifetime. We all grew up on that stage together and formed a bond that has lasted over half our lives. We have celebrated marriage, life and death together as life imitates art. This show taught me to love unconditionally beyond comprehension without apprehension. I am eternally grateful to be a part of the journey and dream of my fellow Trojans, Jon (Hartmere), Debbie (Lurie), Kristin (Hanggi) and the late Damon (Itrabartolo).
What are you up to now? I have taken a hiatus from film and television to executive produce live entertainment in Los Angeles. But, oh, how I have missed the stage, it's in my soul and yet again beckoning…
Jennie Kwan Garrett (Diane Lee, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I vividly remember certain things about my audition. It was at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood. I believe I sang "I Still Believe" by Brenda K. Starr. Everyone had so much excitement for this new project, and they were young, full of energy and very welcoming. I auditioned with a few contenders for Jason. What I remember the most was in our audition Jason Henkel going for it and planting a huge kiss on me. I thought, "This guy is for real!" Lol!
Favorite offstage memory? At Christmastime, Charity Hill from the original cast hosted a party. It was a fun time to begin with, but what I have never forgotten is Mark Edgar Stevens teaching me the lyrics to "I Will Love Again" accompanied with dance moves. That was fun! I still love that song today thanks to him.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… This is a little off-color, but all in jest. Whenever Joseph Pinzon and myself would enter the room together or come on stage together, many times Damon would play a little Asian riff of sorts, and Joe and I would engage in an appropriate Asian greeting or dance. It was a little racist, but very fun. We loved the ritual!
Something you learned about yourself from bare… From bare I learned about more about my inner strength. How to be on my own side. I know how to overcome many obstacles and still have compassion, love and forgiveness for myself and others.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? At the present time, I am living in Los Angeles and continue to work in TV/film, theatre and voice overs.
Maura Knowles (Claire Simmonds understudy, Los Angeles cast)
It was the most creatively cathartic show, role, cast, team!
I had just returned from a one-month safari in Africa and had serious jet lag and was totally out of it when I listened to the message from Kristin Hanggi and Danny Feldman, whom had been given my name by cast member Reed Prescott. Reed and I were in Francis Ford Coppola's musical, Gidget.
Then, at 3:15 AM one morning, I jumped out of bed realizing I never returned the call. I went into audition for the entire team that same morning and was cast on the spot to play Claire's understudy. The show was opening within the week, and I immersed myself into watching every rehearsal. I got chills the first night and knew I was witnessing and a part of something EXTRA MORSELICIOUS! I am honored to be back onstage and backstage with this amazing group of people.
I've been working as a bi-coasting actor/singer/writer and recently wrapped the feature "The Nearest Human Being," ABC Family's "Stitchers" and gearing up for pre-production in my first series as writer/actor, and yes, there are original songs and will be singing.
Reed Prescott (Zach, Los Angeles cast)
Something you learned about yourself from bare… Way back in a previous century — 1997, to be exact — there was a casting notice in Backstage West for a concept recording of a new "pop opera." From the sheer volumes of people who auditioned and were called back, one could tell there was something special about this new work. Riding the wave of excitement and success that was created by Rent just a few years earlier, bare felt like it was the next big, great, take-the-world-by-storm theatre piece. And I'm sure if you ask Phillip Dean Lightstone or Keili Lefkovitz (we are the "survivors" from that initial process), they would probably share similar nostalgia.
Originally, a full cast — with a giant ensemble of 25-30 people — was cast to record the concept album. As is often the case with projects that don't pay, and are fully funded from "the love of the art," the ensemble size dwindled down to a small handful by the time we got into the studio. We were the heart-driven ones. The ones who knew this show would have a future. And we wanted to be a part of its continued life.
Because shows and songs change in development, most of what was initially recorded as ensemble was no longer part of the show. And four of us were asked to come into the recording studio on many nights, usually between the hours of 1-4 AM. We recorded new material, new harmonies, multiple tracks and layers. It was during this process, the creation of the song "Epiphany," we were assigned multiple solos (and in multiple octaves) to create the Saints (who chastise Peter during mass). It was during this time that I started to learn how to use my voice to its fullest capacity. This was also the time I started to be truly confident as a singer.
Tassa Varga (Britanny, now Kyra, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I was doing a local production of Once On This Island at the time and coming home from tech rehearsal in Pasadena when my best friend, Charity Hill, called me and told me two of our fellow Trojan friends had written a little musical and needed some black girls for some parts, and they thought we should audition.
After a long day, the last thing I wanted to do was go out and audition, but when I heard it was Jon Hartmere (I didn't know Damon at the time), after a glass of motivational wine, I hopped in the car and drove down to the Hudson and learned the part of Sister Chantelle's "God Don't Make No Trash" outside of the theatre door before I went in, lubed up and a bit lackadaisical. Then I realized, after singing for the last ten hours, I was not a high soprano, and I could never pull off that part. I believe I ended up singing "Part of the Human Heart" from my role as Erzulie. Three parts happened out of one: a student (then Britanny, now Kyra), Saint Agnes and Cherub were born.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Some of my favorite onstage memories include the antics that happen with a long-running show that was only meant to run six weeks. Rehearsal scenes for Romeo and Juliet became a competition between us cast members about who could make who break character first, who could freshen up the improv/comedy and one-liners and who could bring the most amusing props that week.
Because bare became this unexpected phenomena, and we had many return audience members, we found ourselves constantly freshening up the comedy and improv to amuse ourselves and regular bare-heads. This was the extra cherry on top. I believe, and part of why we ran so long — people came to see which props we would have this week, who would crack a new great one-liner or who would have the latest comedy gig. The content of the show was so heavy, and it weighed on all of us, and I believe we all felt how important it was. But, at the end of the day, artists have to be clowns to keep from crying by the reflection we cast on the stage. Some of my favorites include Keili Lefkovitz's (Nadia) "Missing Child milk carton hat," Joseph Pinzon's "invisible dog" leash and Phlip Lightstone's (Lucas) constant reference to pop-song lyrics (which at the time included the Spice Girls… Lawd, that makes us sound old!).
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? There are a few backstage moments that resonate in my memory: first is that during intermission, most of us could be found on the Hudson side-street in our Catholic school uniforms with or head mikes smoking cigarettes — true to our "bad Catholic school boarding kids" demeanor. We were really living the part.
The others include the impossible quick change that occurred when my partner in crime, Charity Hill, and I had to do a 3.5-second costume change after what was then "Mother Love?" (now "911 Emergency!") costume change. Teri Gamble was my angel every night as I panicked to strip the Angel wings (inevitably, feathers stuck to my sweaty face and body and lurked backstage), but Teri always pulled me out of the panic zone. The other benefit is I had no more modesty as the entire cast saw my "bare" breasts every single night out of necessity as the band vamped continuously testing Damon and Eric Anderson's sanity while we hastily put on our Catholic school girl uniforms — velcro and all.
One night before "Confession," I just couldn't pull it together before my cue was up, and I stumbled onto stage with my tie askew and one shoe (from the rave the night before) only half on. I stumbled onto the stage as if I had the world's most royal hangover, and it went over well, so I stuck to it. Took the pressure of the costume change from me because I decided my character was a wreck the next day and it always got a laugh. ☺
The other, less pleasant, memory was when we had just moved into the Hudson Theatre, and I was waiting for my cue when I decided to lean against a thick black curtain that contained a wall — only to find there was no wall behind the curtain and I did a full swan dive backwards onto the stage beyond. That made me cranky.
Favorite offstage memory? Oh Lord, I can't believe I'm about to confess this, but my fellow cast members were gracious enough not to tell my own story, so here it goes: We were having a rather elaborate wrap party, courtesy of Charity Hill as Host (of course, as the bestie, I helped), and we decided a jumper was a great idea for a bunch of drunk, fantasy-ridden actors to culminate this lengthy, successful run. Enter stage right: Me. Richard Hellstern executed a beautiful backflip. I decided after cooking for four hours with wine as a companion, that I was Nadia Comaneci from the 1976 Olympics, that I was suddenly the acrobat I never was. I executed half of a back flip before I knocked my nose out with my own knee and ended up with a fat lip and swollen eyes for a week. Thank God it was the wrap party because no amount of makeup could have covered the damage I did to my own face with one overly-ambitious knee. #wreckyourself. PS: Later that night, someone accidentally/ carelessly started a fire in said Charity's bedroom, but I was deemed innocent as I was proven to be knocked out at the scene of my own crime.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? The lyrics have changed since and probably for the better. I always related to Damon and his flair for the fatalistic, but what I love is what he pulled out of it to leave this final legacy to change our hearts, our minds and our beliefs with one simple word: from "No Voice" to "One Voice." Times had changed from 2000-07. More importantly was the scene between Peter and the Priest, which did not change: "He went to you for guidance, you hid behind a screen, knowing how much empathy might mean." Back in 2000, my great grandmother from a completely different generation came to see the show, and she called me crying with a heart full of love, empathy and understanding that reached beyond the traditional religious beliefs she had been raised to uphold. bare, at 85 years old, really rocked her world and her whole belief system about what she thought was right and wrong, and I am proud to say that she left this earth at 90 peacefully and in tune with the will of her creator with Love, Understanding and Empathy, which is what Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere set out to do with this "little musical."
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… I think I said it before — Damon's genius was infectious and so human that even the most conservative generations could come to see the love, beauty, pain and struggle of coming to terms with who we are as individuals and being brave enough to face that, own it and be it even in the face of older generations whom we underestimate for their ability to adapt. Kristin Hanggi was particularly intuitive and adept at displaying this God-given talent, and I am grateful every day to work with such artistic geniuses. One of my other amazing experiences was working with Debbie Lurie for the club scene: She brought out vocals in me I didn't know I had, and I was so inspired based on her and Damon's belief in me. It truly changed my life, and they both allowed me to do some amazing projects in vocal/movie scores.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… That I am malleable, resilient, empathetic and loving…and forever hopeful and a constant dreamer. After I married my husband, he tried to tell me this part of my life was over, and it wasn't practical to expect such things as dreams and projects that I truly feel a passion for. He's eating crow and proud to come support me for this reunion. More importantly, the friends I made back in 2000 are my family. We love, cherish and support each other deeply, and that will never change no matter what continent we are on or what ocean separates us.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I am that crazy American who has become an ex-pat (never thought I would be). I currently live in Budapest, Hungary. I teach English at a well-respected international language school, which gives me the time to try to revive my own one-woman jazz vocalist show with the many talented Hungarian jazz musicians who seem more than willing at this point to work with me. I just have to take the leap into a new abyss and get over my language limitations: Music is universal and only has one language: LOVE. Thank you, Damon, for leaving us that even though you left us too early. Your candle burns bright, the rest of us you left here carry the torch proudly with love and gratitude. All my best to you, Damon.
Sierra Rein (Stacy, Nadia understudy, Los Angeles cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I actually didn't audition for bare. I was asked during the preliminary rehearsals to come in as an assistant stage manager by Kristin, to help Amanda Timpson as SM. I remember going to a read-through at UCLA to get a sense of the show for the first time, and at the end had tears streaming down my face. I knew that this was an important, beautiful, powerful show to be a part of, and I told Kristin, "Anything you want from me…" A little bit into rehearsals, someone dropped out of the cast, so I was asked to be a part of the ensemble. An informal sing-through of "A Quiet Night at Home" for Kristin, and I was given the understudy Nadia role.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Beyond performing as Nadia, which is such a wonderful character, there was one memorable show late in the six-month run. A flu or something horrendous was going through the cast, and while I wasn't one of the understudies going on, we had about three understudies and both swings in, and still were missing some ensemble actors. Kristin (I hope she's okay with me revealing this) threw on a school uniform, and we even had the sound guy (who knew the show by heart) jump on stage and perform with us. We'd be "miming" background chatter, but in reality we were telling each other, "Okay, once Jason leaves, you cross left, pick the bench up, move it upstage, talk to Matt, then exit stage right…" or some such. We all were covering for each other. It was insanity, but we had a packed audience and didn't want to turn anyone away. After the show, we screamed with relief and excitement that we did it.
Favorite backstage moment? I'll always remember the tiny changing rooms and hallways backstage at the Hudson, and the CRAZY quick change from the rave scene into "Confessions." We learned how to throw clothes and earrings and wigs, and luckily in "Confessions" we all were supposed to be a little disheveled coming out. I miss my lavender wig. I also remember all the smoke breaks outside of the Hudson in our schoolgirl uniforms. It made quite a picturesque scene for passerby's to see.
Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? Well, I got my agent Eric from a Nadia understudy audition, that was great.
Favorite offstage memory? The cast Talent Show that was put on was fun and revealing — lots of laughs on the Hudson stage. I remember Joseph Pinzon doing a balancing act on a chair and amazing us and later revealing that he wanted to do Cirque du Soleil — he's currently a silk acrobat-performer and tours the country, so it's no surprise now.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? Jon Hartmere's lyrics are stunningly relevant, no matter what your personal struggles are. Ugh, there are SO many of them. I think my favorite is Sister Chantelle's words to Peter: "Nobody knows all the answers / Remember the lessons well / If you hide from yourself / Be someone else for someone else's sake / That would be the greatest mistake." That and, "And I forgive you, Father" from Peter to the Priest just tear my heart in two.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… I did two shows with Kristin and Damon, and I just remember the specificity they had towards what they wanted accomplished, but then a good amount of humor and "oh eff it" attitude when our little 99-seat productions had to cut corners or moments that didn't work. Damon and Kristin knew when to be serious and when to laugh uproariously. I will miss Damon's smile, which was unfiltered and completely infectious. He had his dark side, but it's not what I remember most. I do remember as ASM running out for a bottle of merlot, Damon's favorite wine, to have while he worked. It hurts a little typing that, knowing now how he passed.
Interesting stage-door experience? Originally, the show was meant to have a six-week run. It kept being extended and extended to a six-month run. And people came back over and over and over because the message was so important to them. I met a young man who had seen it probably ten times, and he told me about his life as a gay man. He said the show made him feel better about his family strife regarding his homosexuality. And it was either him or another gay man who brought his mother back to see the show, as a sort of beginning towards having a conversation about his sexuality with her. I would like to think the show, for many different types of teenagers, has been a source of solace.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… Understudying without rehearsal is 49 percent preparation/memorization and 50 percent trust. And the other one percent is plastering backstage with copies of your track.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? In New York since 2008. Have performed in multiple contracts for Disney Cruise Line over the years and am a founding member/performer in the MAC-Award winning vocal group Marquee Five.
Richard Hellstern (Male swing, Los Angeles cast)
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? The show in L.A. was so unexpectedly popular that we extended the run more times than we intended. As a result, after having gone in for every male track in the show, there was a night when I was forced to sing ALTO and go on for a woman in the ensemble. It went about as well as you might expect.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? After the show had been running a few months, Kristin, the director, came to visit backstage. The theatre was TINY. We had NO SPACE. It was Tetris during a show. I remember us physically moving her from one spot to another to avoid being run over by actors racing to their next entrance. Our backstage choreography was as elaborate as the dancing on stage.
Favorite offstage memory? I probably shouldn't tell you, but deep into the run a few of us would have mimosas on Sunday before our two show days. One of the actors, Philip Lightstone, lived a block from the theatre. We would make morning cocktails and then go do our two shows.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Damon was a force. So funny, so unapologetic, so energetic. He honestly never understood why everyone wasn't able to operate at his level. The show was a complicated technical feat in such a small theatre on a waiver contract. I remember feeling like we were all off at sea together; trapped in close quarters and living on top of one another. But it was absolute magic. Some of my most important personal and professional relationships came from this show. I've been in the weddings of three cast members over the years. We really are a family.
Kaitlin Hopkins (Claire Simmonds, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I actually didn't audition. There was an early reading in New York at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, and Dave Clemmons was casting. He asked me if I would do this reading of a new show that had been done in L.A., and he felt I was very right to play the mom and offered me Claire. I very much wanted to do it, as several shows I had been part of had started in L.A. — Bat Boy, The Great American, Trailer Park Musical — and I felt at that time some of the most interesting and cutting-edge shows were being developed in Equity waiver theatres out there. I was fortunate when the show moved forward, that the creative team and the Dodgers were still interested in me playing the role.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Michael Arden was really sick and was vomiting fairly frequently, but insisted on doing the show; I think we were in previews. Anyway, there was no talking him out of doing the show, so they had two buckets for him on each side backstage, and he would run off, puke and come back and sing… It was actually fairly impressive. He got through it; he was a trouper.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? Hmmm… not sure this is a favorite moment backstage because, to be honest, it was too crowed and small back there to have any group experiences off stage except to try to stay flat against the wall and out of the way of the confessional as it rolled on and off, but this is a treasured memory from the dressing room. That theatre redefined a small space backstage. We were ALL in one dressing room together, a very small room, very close together. They hung a few sheets to separate the boys from the girls but it was Gorilla Theater for sure, no windows and no ventilation, and a lot of mold and dust, but it was…amazing. I think it created a very tight-knit ensemble, and it very much contributed to the fabric of the show. We were so connected on stage because we were all so connected off stage; we were together for our entire prep time before going out there. It felt like we breathed together from the moment it started until it was over. I couldn't wait to go to the theatre every night. I loved that group of artists, fearless and passionate about telling this story every night.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "When God sits on his mighty throne and says, 'What should I make today?' He don't grab a drawing board, ain't no mistake, the man don't play. He simply opens up his heart out comes tumblin' works of art. God don't make no trash." Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… I remember thinking how young they were and how brilliant, and how lucky we were to witness them at this moment, at the beginning, because it was so clear what lay ahead for them. I think the whole cast let that way. Like we were lucky we got to be the group of artists that got to take this journey and tell this story. We believed in the message of the show, but Kristin and the boys wouldn't let us get precious with it or sentimental. They wanted us to keep it real and raw, and I loved that. I also had a wonderful moment with Damon when we were recording "Warning" several years after the show had closed in a little recording studio in L.A. I got to tell him what it meant to me to play Claire and how that experience had changed me. I had no way of knowing that would be the last time I would see him, but I am so glad we got to talk about it.
I think one of the blessings of this concert and why so many of us made the effort to be here is that original Off-Broadway cast never got closure on that experience. It was bittersweet because we were supposed to move the show, and it didn't end up happening. It was like having your guts ripped out, none of us got to finish our work on the show or say goodbye to this company of people that had shared this incredible experience. Sadly, it is still bittersweet because Damon isn't there to share it with us, but it feels wonderful to be part of keeping his work alive. It was a gift in my life, and it is nice to be able to give that back.
Interesting stage-door experience? I remember how moving it was that so many gay men would come to see the show with their moms. It was a humbling experience to have many of them wait to meet me and chat afterwards about how my characters relationship with her son had impacted them. They wanted to say thank you and share what it meant to be able to share that story with their moms. Hearing their personal stories makes you remember that theatre at its best creates community and conversation.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… That supporting original voices and young artists was something I was passionate about, it led me in part to what I am doing today.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? In fall of 2009, my husband, original bare cast member (Jim Price, who played the Priest) and I moved south of Austin, TX, to Texas State University, where I created and currently run a BFA in Musical Theatre program, and Jim created and runs an MFA in Dramatic Writing, in addition to serving on the Musical Theatre faculty. I love teaching and directing and giving back to young artists. I still work professionally on occasion; I recently did a workshop of Andrew Lippa's new show The Man in the Ceiling, directed by Jeffrey Seller, and did a production of Present Laughter at Two River Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, but nothing compares to being in a classroom with my students.
Jim Price (Priest, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? What's crazy about that is I don't remember auditioning — I don't think I did. Dave Clemmons cast the initial New York readings and asked me and my wife to do it, and then I think we were just offered the gig. Sweet.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? I used to have to run along the side of the space in a blackout to get into position a couple of numbers before they rolled me out in my confessional, and I used to love sitting back there in the dark listening to those incredible voices.
Interesting stage-door experience? Having to go through the police station metal detector to go up to the theatre on the second floor.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I'm the head of the MFA Dramatic Writing Program at Texas State University. I'm launching a Center for New Work Development soon, so we can support the development and production of new work around the world just like bare was once.
Kay Trinidad (Diane Lee, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? It was the first time I met lovely Rye Mullis of Dave Clemmons Casting. I was still a sophomore in my first semester of school at NYU's Tisch. I was reading backstage in class and saw the audition, showed up, and the rest is history! EPAs are REALLY worth going to! I sang "Joyful, Joyful" (from "Sister Act").
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? My favorite?! There are too many to list. "Happy Birthday, Bitch!" was always a fun and silly song to sing and be crazy to. However, the piece as a whole was so powerful, and I was and am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of such a special piece.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? My favorite backstage moment was when John Hill just picked me up and put me in the laundry basket. End scene. Our cast was sooo fun and kooky!!!
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… We had a really great team working on the show. Awesome creatives. Damon would always add funny musical interludes commenting on what we were doing in the moment... musical exclamations that were quite funny. My favorite was when we would just break out of the moment and play kung-fu fighting or the theme song from the horror flick "Halloween," which he penned.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? Based in NYC. Still doing musical theatre! Currently working on the new Maltby and Shire musical Waterfall!
Isaac Calpito (Alan, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I remember not having a lot of time. I was doing the Mamma Mia! first national tour at the time, and we were in D.C. at the National Theatre. I was called in the night prior to come into NYC to dance and sing for the creative team. And I didn't have a proper day off. So, I had to take the train up from D.C. early in the morning, but be back for my show at night! I danced for Sergio [Trujillo], and I remember the combination being very intense, amazing choreography. To be honest, I thought it was going to be a dance show. I think I sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and a few bars of a rap in the show they wanted me to prepare.
I told them I had to leave to go to my show, and I actually couldn't come back again for callbacks because of my Mamma Mia! schedule, and there was a lot of commotion and frantic talking. I went into the hallway to leave because my train was leaving VERY soon, and Dave Clemmons, who was casting, asked me if I would leave Mamma Mia! to do the show. I was so nervous about missing my train, and yet so excited about the prospect of doing something new IN New York and dancing Sergio's amazing choreography, I said, "I would love to! OMG. But… You have to talk to my agent. I don't want to piss anyone off."
I made it back to D.C. for my show, and the next morning, I got the offer for bare. It was a tough decision, actually, because I loved my MM tour family and that show so much, but something inside me pushed me to take bare. And I'm so glad I did.
Funny twist: I ended up joining the Broadway cast of Mamma Mia! shortly after bare closed and stayed with the show for five years, so it all ended up working out in the end.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Any onstage mishaps? Singing "In Nomine Patris" in full vibrato with Sasha Allen. I was a little bit naughty. (Sideways glance.) She was well-behaved, of course.
Favorite backstage moment? Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? I remember being really star struck when John Hill brought Sarah Jessica Parker backstage. I was a bit obsessed with "Sex and the City" at the time, as we all were. So that was a moment. Thank you, John.
Favorite offstage memory? Meeting one of my best friends, Kearran Giovanni. We hit it off from the first day of rehearsals and have maintained our friendship through our insanely busy schedules. I was even her man of honor at her gorgeous wedding.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "Where was the warning?"
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabotalo… Sergio made me his dance captain, and that was a nerve-wracking experience. So many things were constantly changing, as they do when developing a new show, and it was less dance centric than I initially thought it was going to be when I signed on. It was a valuable learning experience. I learned a lot.
Interesting stage-door experience? The fans called themselves "bare-backers," which I didn't understand was meant to be provocative. I was a bit naïve then.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… Set your alarm. Don't sleep through a matinee.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? Choreographing for pop divas and spinning my butt off at Soul Cycle. I teach at the Bryant Park & E. 63rd Soul Cycle studios. New York is my forever home.
Mike Cannon (Zach, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I remember not knowing anything about the show. I was living in Pittsburgh, and I moved to New York to do bare. We got these cassette tapes of the songs to practice for the final callback. Cassette tapes! Old school. I think I still have it.
Favorite offstage memory? I enjoyed making lifelong friends in that company. Although I don't speak to them on a daily basis, whenever I see them around the city, I always still feel the connection of our time together in bare.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… I just remember how passionate everyone was. Creating a new show in New York is an amazing, scary, exciting thing. I was barely paying my bills, but loving every moment.
Something you learned about yourself from bare… We obviously had our run at New World Stages canceled right before we were supposed to start rehearsals. I was devastated. None of us actually said goodbye. There was no closing party. The show was taken right out of my life. I learned to have thick skin as far as the business is concerned and to live for the moment.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I'm currently in Aladdin. I stayed in New York after bare and have been fortunate to have worked in the city since. Aladdin is my sixth Broadway show. I'd definitely have to thank bare for bringing me to New York and changing my path in life!
Kearran Giovanni (Kyra, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? What did you sing? I have no recollection! I was a last-minute add and had just come off tour with The Lion King.
Favorite offstage memory? I just remember being part of such a special family. You make so many friends in this business, but not all of them stick like these.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "All Grown Up." "Taking one, and leaving two." Just brilliant.
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… All I know is that there was a lot is hugs and a lot of the F-word happening!
Something you learned about yourself from bare… So much about acceptance and accountability for your words.
What are you up to now? What kind of projects are you doing/where are you based? I'm based in L.A. Series regular on a show called "Major Crimes" on TNT. Very lucky actor. ☺
Aaron Lohr (Matt Lloyd, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? Having to perform a dance routine with other actors (wasn't aware that there was any rigorous dancing in the show) in front of the creative team and feeling like a deer in headlights.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Cracking jokes with Natalie Joy Johnson on stage and trying desperately to contain my laughter.
Onstage mishap? I was very ill from the night before and barely got through "Are You There?" I hit the last note and raced off the stage right into the bathroom.
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? "Is it my fate to sit and wait?"
Something you learned about yourself from bare... Working with a compassionate, insightful, gifted and intelligent cast and creative team toward a common goal, to increase awareness and to enrich the human experience, broadened my perspective of the world and my place it in.
What are you up to now? I received my Master's Degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay in NYC. I briefly worked for a not-for-profit organization, re-examining cases for the wrongfully convicted. I am a California State Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor and working toward my California License as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I facilitate Process Groups and work individually with clients suffering from co-occurring disorders at an in-patient residential facility in Malibu, California. I try to get myself to a few local spots in L.A. to sing some blues/rock with my band as often as I can.
Romelda Benjamin (Sister Chantelle, New York cast)
What do you remember from your audition? I remember my audition being last minute. I was excited about auditioning for something brand new. I knew nothing about bare except the writers and director hailed from L.A. I sang Aretha Franklin's "Think," read a scene, and as I was leaving the room, I heard Kristin say I think we found our Sister Chantelle.
What is your favorite onstage memory? Hmmmmmm... Favorite moment on stage? There are so many. Well, it's not my favorite moment, but it was the first time I was injured on stage... The revealing cloak on my costume was pulled too hard, and I slipped and went over on my ankle.
Luckily there was a doctor in the audience, and the show went on!!!!! With me in it!!!!
Anyone who came to the show who you loved meeting? I enjoyed meeting everyone, especially college and high school kids. They all had so much love for the show and its message. They waited in line for tickets for hours, came up on the bus just to see this groundbreaking show. I tried to say hi and have a conversation with the audience members, especially the one who were touched by the show.
Favorite offstage memory? Off stage, me, Adam Fleming, Natalie Joy Johnson and John Hill were like the four amigos! We hung out all the time. Pure shenanigans! Marc Shaiman invited us for a weekend at his home in the Hamptons; we had a monumental blast!
Lyric in the show that resonated with you then… or maybe still does today? Why, of couse. Two of my favorite lines in the whole show: everything in "911! Emergency," and the best line of all, "There's a black woman inside of every gay man!"
Memories from working with the creative team, including Damon Intrabartolo… Just being in Damon's world made you feel like a star. He had a way of putting you at ease. Damon was a stickler for those notes being on point; he always worked so hard and furiously. His energy was magnetic, he made you want to be better, work harder, be more fierce than I ever thought I could be. He called most of us by our character names usually, but the day I got called in to rehearse a new number he said, "Sister, have I got a number for you!!!" And it was the fabulous showstopper "911! Emergency!" baby! I loved that man; he helped mold the sass that is today.
Favorite backstage moment? Awsome backstage experience was meeting cast members from "Mad TV," Sarah Jessica Parker and a then unknown Andy Cohen.
Something you learned about yourself from bare... I learned that I was stronger, more in tune, more versatile than I ever thought. I gained a tremendous amount of confidence, strength and courage to dig deep... Also that I could sing notes that should not be sung. lol.
What are you up to now? Two weeks ago, I sang for Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden with Broadway Inspirational Voices, Harry Connick Jr. and Gloria Estefan. For the last two years, I've been a part of a fabulous show called The Most Powerful Woman On Fashion at Joe's Pub with Ryan Raftery. I'm also a part of the world famous Broadway Inspirational Voices. This past July I played Mama Morton in Chicago with Donna Drake and Rhonda Miller in upstate NY. This past spring I was a part of two awsome workshops Warped, the story of the Super Mario Brothers, and Zombies On Broadway. I'm based in the Big Apple!