THE LEADING MEN: Jason Hite and Taylor Trensch, the Undercover Lovers of Off-Broadway's Bare

By Michael Gioia
15 Dec 2012

Taylor Trensch


Taylor Trensch, who made his Broadway debut earlier this year in the hit musical Wicked, brings his peculiar and offbeat sensibilities to Peter Simonds, the outcast at St. Cecilia's Boarding School who unsuspectingly finds his way into the heart of the school's closeted jock, Jason. Trensch, who is no stranger to shows that deal with angst-ridden young adults — having starred in the national tour of Spring Awakening as Moritz and appeared in the ensemble of the recent Off-Broadway revival of Rent — was familiar with Bare since its early beginnings when he got a hold of the 2004 demo recording of the then-titled bare: a pop opera in high school. We caught up with the actor in has last week of rehearsal.

Your characterization of Peter is very different from earlier incarnations of the role seen Off-Broadway or regionally, as well as heard on the 2007 recording. He's a bit quirkier in this version. How did you approach the character?
Taylor Trensch: Well, I was sort of familiar with the [2004 Off-Broadway version] before stepping into this. Michael Arden's performance [of Peter] was so wonderful, and I knew that I would never be able to bring what he brought to it, so I had to kind of start from scratch and make it my own. I tried to work from this new book that [librettist] Jon Hartmere has written that has a lot of humor in it and bring my own weird sensibility and idiosyncratic stuff to this show. Another person, Matt Doyle, was so fantastic on that [2007] recording. I never had the chance to see it on the stage, but I had been very familiar with the music.


Jason Hite and Taylor Trensch in Bare.
photo by Chad Batka

Do you closely identify with the role? Do you see a bit of yourself in Peter?
TT: Definitely, yeah. I think Peter feels very mediocre and average in this high school, especially next to Jason who is star-athlete, star-student — kind of the "golden child" of St. Cecilia's. I think Peter feels very plain, and I definitely felt that way in high school. I never really found my niche. I kind of found myself to be quite unremarkable, so I certainly relate to Peter in that way.

I really enjoyed the addition of that moment in the opening of the second act — the flashback to Jason and Peter's very first interaction. Was that in the initial script?
TT: In the first draft of the script that I received that moment was not there. Jon and [director] Stafford [Arima] told me that people who were reading the script were wondering, "How did this relationship really begin?," so they added this flashback scene into the top of Act Two before we even started rehearsals. I love that scene a whole lot because you see that first electric moment between the two of these boys that launches their relationship. I love getting to work on that, especially having gone through [the later] half of [Peter and Jason's] journey — and then [jumping] back to that moment and remind ourselves why we love each other so much. [The second act] feels a little more poignant, and I think a lot of those moments — the more tragic moments in Act Two — resonate even better than they would have if we didn't have this flashback scene. Unfortunately, in Act Two, a lot of what we see is Peter and Jason not in a good place, so it's kind of nice to have that reminder — for the audience as well — that it is a very strong love between these two characters.