By Michael Gioia
15 Dec 2012
A ROLE OF A LIFETIME
When West Coast native Jason Hite made his way to the Big Apple, he immediately began to book work. Following his appearance in the winter 2012 Texas tryout of Michael John LaChiusa's Giant at Dallas Theater Center (before its recent transfer to The Public Theater in New York City), the actor was featured in the Barrington Stage Company's summer engagement of Joe Iconis' The Black Suits. Upon his arrival back to New York, Hite landed his first Off-Broadway credit — the revised revival of Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere's Bare, which features new material by music supervisor and arranger Lynne Shankel. Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz, Carrie) directs. Hite stars as the school's "golden boy," Jason McConnell, who appears to have everything "straight" on the outside, but is struggling with a sexual-identity crisis on the inside — and simultaneously falling in love with the quirky and odd (yet adorable) Peter.
Jason Hite: …My agent [got me an audition] for Bare. They sent me the script… I was vaguely aware of the show. I had known [fellow Bare cast member] Gerard [Canonico] previously, through mutual friends, and I remember him saying that he'd been a part of a couple readings last year. It was kind of surprising, because I had done a show in Berkeley, CA, almost three years ago called Girlfriend. [And] the way that [Girlfriend] is constructed is very similar to the way this show is — the fact that it's about two boys, one of which is very closeted and tightly wound, and the other is a little bit more out, a little bit more comfortable with who he is. So I kind of knew the character vaguely before I went in for it.
It was a crazy process. I want to say it was about three or four auditions. I think by the third one, they had us in there from like 11 o'clock until 3 or 4 — bringing in new combinations of people to try and get the right vibe for the show. And, it just so happens that the people that you see right now [in the show] — I was able to be in the room with all of those people at different times. I remember actually texting Gerard after one of my final auditions — doing a scene with Elizabeth [Judd, who plays Ivy]. I was like, "Dude, I don't know what's going to happen with me and this show, but I know that if I get this, I have a feeling that Elizabeth will get it as well." I just felt that we read really well together, and I felt like she was a stunning actress. Once I got the call that I had booked [Bare], it has been kind of a crazy ride.
|photo by Chad Batka|
Was the Girlfriend role similar to Jason?
JH: Yes, he is…but it's a very different world. In the world of Bare, you get to see [Jason] at school, in public and around people, and you get to see the different faces that he puts on. And, you get to see how different he is when it's him and Peter alone. With Girlfriend, it was just a two-person show, and the show was set in Omaha, NE, in 1993… That was its own character in the show — we were in a very conservative area. Our director — a brilliant man, Les Waters — stressed in the entire process, during rehearsals, about the Midwest. People aren't necessarily as expressive [there]. I think people are a little bit more soft-spoken and hold things a little bit more closely, so any form of emotion was almost painful and hard to grasp. With Bare, it's a little bit more of focusing this energy [so] that he's not just yelling, he's not just screaming… It's very pinpointed in the way that Stafford has directed it.