Members of the cast of 'BARE: A Pop Opera' pose for a promotional photo. The show opens Thursday, April 18.

CARBONDALE — Many teens search for a place to belong, and often wonder how they will fit into the world. For the teenage protagonists in the musical “Bare,” this experience is intensified by the inherent conflict of Catholicism and same-sex relationships.

“Bare” — the latest production by students in the Southern Illinois University Department of Theater — follows the secret relationship between teens Jason and Peter and the conflict that results.

This play is a coming of age pop/rock opera revolving around an ensemble of Catholic boarding school students.

Peter desires to open their relationship to the public, while Jason is against coming out as a couple, fearing that their reputation will be stained. Outside influences from peers, parents and teachers play a major role in the fate of their love.

Other major conflicts include Jason’s commitment to the “straight” image, the impact of jealousy from other classmates, preconceived notions of homosexuality and misguided advice from trusted adults. Thematically, the play focuses on being comfortable with who you are and dispelling judgments about the LBGTQ+ community.

The SIU Theater production of “Bare” is produced entirely by students.

Also known as “BARE: A Pop Opera,” the musical features music by Damon Intrabartolo, lyrics by Jon Hartmere and a book by Hartmere and Intrabartolo. The New York production of “Bare” at the American Theatre of Actors Off- Broadway ran from April 19 to May 27, 2004.

Jake Ellsworth, co-producer for the play, expressed why he feels the play will be impactful.

“The show will speak to people our age,” Ellsworth said. “With its blunt approach to controversial issues, it normalized the struggles that today’s youth deal with. Regardless of your age, everyone has dealt with not knowing how they fit into the world. Everyone has faced backlash for pursuing something that others wouldn’t understand or believe in. Everyone can relate.”

Performances will be in the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater, and will occur at 7:30 p.m. from April 18 to 20.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $6 for students.

Tickets can be purchased by phone at 877-725-8547; online at events.siu.edu; in person at the SIU Arena of McLeod Theater Box offices from noon to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and by mail at SIU Ticket Office, Lingle Hall – Mail Code 6620, 1490 Douglas Dr. Carbondale, IL, 62901.

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