"Bare: A Pop Musical" features Catholic school love.
This month, two Madison theater groups highlight LGBT love and its tenacity over the past century.
The premiere of 10 Dollar House at Broom Street Theater (March 20-April 11) offers a piece of Wisconsin history. Co-authors Martha Meyer and Rick Kinnebrew were inspired to write the play after touring Pendarvis, a historic cottage located in Mineral Point. During the height of the Great Depression, Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum (partners in love and business) purchased a ramshackle stone house with a vision of turning their $10 investment into a fully restored home. That purchase sparked the preservation of many of the iconic Cornish stone houses that draw tourists to the region to this day.
Broom Street Theater artistic director Heather Renken says when she first read the script she was struck by the dual struggles the characters faced: "What I took away was the perseverance of these guys, to not only continue the work they thought was important, but to preserve a relationship that wasn't openly accepted in society." She says the play is also a testament to Wisconsin's progressive culture: "Wisconsin has always been in favor of personal freedoms, and I think people are quick to forget that."
Meanwhile, the Bartell Theatre offers another perspective on love and acceptance in its production of Bare: A Pop Musical (March 20-April 4). Set in in a 1990s Catholic school, this rock musical revolves around the secret relationship of two closeted boys: Peter and Jason. As the boys attempt to reconcile their feelings for one another, secrets become currency. Who has feelings for whom? And who else knows?
The musical (recommended for ages 16 and older) deals with many hot-button issues, including sexuality, body image, drug abuse and suicide. Director Steve Noll says the show's themes are relevant for today's audiences. "Teen suicide is still more often than not related to issues of sexuality and coming out," says Noll. Despite the heavy subject material, Bare's music is full of energy, and Noll says local singing and dancing talent will be on full display at the Bartell.