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

By Michael Gioia
15 Dec 2012

Trensch in Wicked.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Does your own religion play a part in how you've approached the show? Are you a religious person?
TT: Currently, I am not very religious, but I was raised in a religious household. We went to Baptist church on Sundays and on Easter and Christmas, so I certainly called back to that time to remind myself what it's like to be hearing doctrine and these messages that we explore in our play. But, at the moment, I'm not very religious, so I think it was interesting to revisit being in a religious community.

[SPOILER!] After Peter and Jason's relationship is outed to the entire school, the next time we see Peter, he has a gash on his face. Was this something new to Bare because of the recent publicized outbreak in teen bullying?
TT: Yeah… I mean, it's almost been a decade since Bare was last in New York. With the rash of teen suicides that has happened since then, I think it was important for us to address that. It would be almost naïve to pretend that doesn't happen when we're dealing with the subject matter that we're dealing with…so, yeah, it was an addition to our production. I hope it's very affective. I thought [it was] when I read it. It's certainly something interesting that we've added to our production. This topic has become a hot-button issue.

Tell me about working with your co-star Jason Hite?
TT: Jason is a wonderful, wonderful scene partner, and I'm so very lucky to be working with him. We were in the callback process together, and we read many, many times for Stafford and the creative team. I sort of had my fingers crossed that we'd get to do this together, so I'm very excited to be sharing the stage with him. I think he's just magnificent in this role… It's been an amazing environment. Stafford is very nurturing and creates a space to explore and fail and get up and try again. The issue [Stafford, Jason and I] keep revisiting is how huge first love is — the gravity of the first time you ever told someone you loved them. Saying "I love you" when you're a teenager is very different than saying "I love you" when you're an adult and have been in many relationships. So we keep kind of going back to this — how important this relationship really is, especially for Jason who's kind of in this questioning place in his life, to be with a boy and for this to mean so much to him.


Jason Hite and Taylor Trensch at opening night of Bare.
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Before Bare, you played Jack in a star-studded reading for the film adaptation of Into the Woods. Can you tell me what it was like in that room?
TT: Oh my gosh, yeah! [Laughs.] It was the craziest, coolest week of my life! Every minute of every day, I felt like I shouldn't be there and that I should be apologizing to the rest of the cast. [Laughs.] But it was an incredible experience — some of the best performances I've ever seen, and we only had like three or four days of rehearsal to put up complex [Stephen] Sondheim-[James] Lapine material. It was a really incredibly experience. [Director] Rob Marshall was just the most wonderful, and I've loved Nina Arianda for many years, so it was very exciting.

Had you ever played Jack before?
TT: I have. I played the role in high school, so that helped me a lot with "Your Fault," at least. I didn't mess up too poorly. [Laughs.] It hasn't been that many years since I was in high school, but it's such a change from 18 to 23, just having lived a little more life. It was definitely really exciting to revisit that material.

Have you heard any details about it moving forward?
TT: I have not. I hope that it does because the new screenplay is really wonderful, and a lot of the cast was just so superb. And, I can't imagine what can happen with this project with more than a week, so I certainly hope that audiences get to see this.

Were there any stark differences that were exciting to work on in the screenplay?
TT: The main thing that I didn't even think about was Into the Woods is so separated — Act One and Act Two are completely different entities — so it was exciting to see this transition from the end of Act One into Act Two with no intermission and how that action really launches. That was the most exciting thing to see — to see it become cinematic as opposed to theatrical, and I think it works very well.

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)