Calgary Herald

Musical explores bare facts of being a teen

BARE — CAPPUCCINO MUSICAL THEATRE

- KATHLEEN RENNE COMMUNITY ARTS

Cappuccino Musical Theatre seems to be developing a reputation as an outfit that stages musicals that err on the edgier side of things. Or at least that’s the impression I’m getting with its recent offerings of The Wedding Singer, Rent and now bare, a relatively new musical that has yet to have a Broadway run.

While director Jamie Eastgaard– Ross seems somewhat loath to use the phrase, he does describe bare as a “coming-of-age” story. Actually, make that a “pop opera,” as there is virtually no spoken dialogue in the show.

Several high school student archetypes populate the story, all of whom are in their senior year at a Catholic boarding school.

There’s Jason, the popular class valedictor­ian who doesn’t want to tarnish his reputation by coming out that he’s gay. There’s Peter, Jason’s roommate and secret lover who wants Jason to publicly acknowledg­e his sexual identity.

Then there’s Ivy, the school’s “alpha female,” who all the boys want to date and all the girls want to be. She is in love with Jason.

Her roommate is actually Jason’s sister, Nadia, who EastgaardR­oss says offers some of the comic relief in the show. She’s the classic heavier-set girl stereotype, who is good at drama but never gets any lead roles (or boys) because of her size and her looks.

And then there’s Matt, who is in love with Ivy, and always has to play second fiddle to Jason.

“It’s a very personal show,” says Eastgaard-ross, adding that each cast and crew member relates to different characters in the production in that “that-was-me-inhigh-school” way.

Besides the drama associated with the dual love triangles taking place, the youths are in the throes of preparing for their year-end production of Romeo and Juliet, which adds another dimension to the show.

“We get scenes from Romeo and Juliet presented in a musical fashion,” says Eastgaard-ross, adding that the inclusion of Shakespear­e’s star-crossed lovers’ theme is deliberate, given bare’s story.

There is plenty of mature subject matter in this show. In fact, everyone had to be more than 16 years old to audition for the production.

“All the stuff we’re addressing is happening: teen sex, teen drinking; there’s even a rave scene where everyone is hopped up on God knows what; there’s fighting; there’s language,” says EastgaardR­oss.

“I never have worked on a more intricate show than this,” he says.

A 10-piece band accompanie­s the cast.

“The music is phenomenal,” says Eastgaard-ross, adding that the pieces range from hard rock to pop ballads.

While some may wonder why there needs to be yet another show dealing with youth angst and coming to grips with one’s identity, Eastgaard-ross says it’s simply because that particular plot is “omnipresen­t” in life.

“There’s always the struggle to figure out who you are. How do you move on from things that go wrong? These are themes that are always going to be important,” he explains.

Now, if I can overcome my prudish sensibilit­ies, which this show is bound to challenge. . . .

Bare runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 3 at the Pumphouse’s Victor Mitchell Theatre.

Tickets: cappuccino­musicalthe­atre.ca or 403-263-0079.

WHAT PUSHES ARE WE WENCHES DRIVEN TO? —

FULL CIRCLE THEATRE

If you are a bit baffled by this title, you’re not alone. When I spoke with one of Full Circle Theatre’s co-founders, Erin Weir, I never once said it quite right. It turns out, however, it’s actually a line from a Jacobian drama, The Two Noble Kinsmen, attributed to Shakespear­e.

What Pushes Are We Wenches Driven To? is Full Circle Theatre’s second show after Weir, and fellow University of Calgary graduate Claire Bolton founded the theatre company last year.

“Our big focus is celebratin­g the strength of women in theatre. We want to do shows with really great roles for women, but not necessaril­y female-centric stories,” Weir explains.

As such, Full Circle’s inaugural show last season was The Taming of the Shrew. In the spring, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on the bill. (Do you sense a theme here?)

“We love, love Shakespear­e. He writes these amazing, strong parts for women. There’s no way this man didn’t love women,” Weir says.

“We can always use another company doing Shakespear­e. We need to explore classical theatre more in Calgary, and we need to produce art young people can be a part of, because there are so many young actresses in this city, we want to give them another opportunit­y.”

What Pushes Are We Wenches Driven To? is created by Weir, Bolton and the rest of the fiveperson cast.

They listened to music and looked at photograph­s for inspiratio­n, and each wrote monologues and text that they then assembled into a cohesive show.

The story centres on the friendship between two girls — Sarah and Jess — and how that friendship changes over the years when things like college, drugs and, of course, boys, enter the picture.

In a nod to Shakespear­e, Weir says audiences can expect some heightened text in the 90-minute play, despite it being a modern story.

What Pushes Are We Wenches Driven To? runs until Saturday at Dancers’ Studio West (2007 10th Ave. S.W.).

Tickets and informatio­n: fullcircle­theatre.ca or 403-383-1447.

 ?? Courtesy, Tim Nguyen, Citrus Photograph­y ?? Bare is a teen-centric, coming-of-age story with edge. A 10-piece band accompanie­s the performanc­e, with songs that range from hard rock to pop ballads on subjects such as sexuality, drinking and drugs.
Courtesy, Tim Nguyen, Citrus Photograph­y Bare is a teen-centric, coming-of-age story with edge. A 10-piece band accompanie­s the performanc­e, with songs that range from hard rock to pop ballads on subjects such as sexuality, drinking and drugs.
 ?? Courtesy, Full Circle Theatre ?? Full Circle Theatre’s Erin Weir, right, and Claire Bolton, left, co-wrote What Pushes Are We Wenches Driven To?
Courtesy, Full Circle Theatre Full Circle Theatre’s Erin Weir, right, and Claire Bolton, left, co-wrote What Pushes Are We Wenches Driven To?
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