Refuge Theatre Project’s “bare: a pop opera” Oct. 7 – Nov. 6

Refuge Theatre Project will again perform in a non-traditional space for their production of bare: a pop opera, which will complete the company’s second season with a five-week run from October 7 through November 6, 2016. The sanctuary of Epworth United Methodist Church at 5253 N. Kenmore will be the stage for this sung-through musical, set in a private co-educational Roman Catholic boarding school. bare, which premiered in Los Angeles in 2000 and was mounted off-Broadway in New York in 2004, follows gay and straight teenage characters who are dealing with their emerging sexuality. The pastoral guidance they receive from their teachers is not always affirming.

While church basements have long been welcoming homes to non-profit theatre companies, Refuge’s production of bare is unusual in that it will be staged in a sanctuary, where religious symbols will reinforce the themes of the musical. The company took a similar approach earlier this year, with its environmental production of High Fidelity – performed in a rented pop-up space decorated to resemble the “Championship Vinyl” record store setting of the musical. High Fidelity earned unanimous praise from the city’s critics, with the Chicago Reader saying “the cast of young fiery talent lifts (the score) to new levels of rock.” The Chicago Tribune said the “endearing production brims with good-natured enthusiasm and dollops of sly wit,” in awarding it three stars.

bare: a pop opera had its World Premiere at Los Angeles’ Hudson Theatre in 2000 and its first New York production, a two-month run at the American Theatre of Actors, in 2004. An 11-song sampler of music from the show was offered to all patrons of that run, with a full studio album recorded and released in 2007. Those recordings plus the many regional productions of the musical since have led to its development of an intensely loyal audience over the years since its original New York and Los Angeles productions. A revised version with more spoken dialogue called Bare: the Musical was produced off-Broadway in 2012-13. The Refuge production will be of the original “pop opera” version.

bare: a pop opera will be directed by Refuge Associate Artistic Director Matt Dominguez, who directed Refuge’s Chicago premiere of the Broadway musical Glory Days in 2015 as well as Men Exposed for Redtwist Theatre. Dominguez has been an assistant director for productions at Northlight, Next Theatre and American Theater Company, where his preparation for bare included The Catholic Repertory (Doubt and Agnes of God). Refuge’s Resident Music Director Mike Evans will be music director.

The cast includes Lewis Rawlinson (Peter), Chris Ratliff (Jason), Molly Coleman (Ivy), Gina Francesca Carlson (Nadia), Ryan Armstrong (Matt), Nikki Greenlee (Sister Chantelle), Shaun Baer (Priest), Anne Marie Lewis (Claire), Jacob Fjare (Lucas), Alanna Lovely (Tanya), Natalie Savoy (Kyra), Anastasia Arnold (Diane), Cassie Nelson (Rory), Connor Giles (Zach), Jonathan Parker Jackson (Alan), Kaleb Van Rijwijck (swing), Kat Geertsen (swing).

The design team and production staff include Michelle Manni (set and props design, technical director), Morgan Egan (costume design), Richard Schroeder (sound design), Cody Ryan (lighting design), Hunter Lindner (assistant director) and Carleigh Obrochta (stage manager).

Preview performances will be Friday, October 7, 2016 and Saturday, October 8 at 8 pm both nights. Press opening will be Sunday, October 9 at 6 pm. Performances will be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through November 6, 2016. All seats are $25.00 plus applicable ticketing fees. Tickets may be ordered online at .

Refuge Theatre Project was founded in 2015 by Ross Egan and Morgan Egan with the goal of utilizing the appeal of musical theatre to foster a broader and more accessible theatre community. We aim to further our mission by producing contemporary musical theatre that is free from anything extra. We tell stories about people dealing with life in a way that is meaningful and fun. Musical theatre for real people.

The company’s previous productions include the musicals Next Thing You Know and Glory Days in 2015, and High Fidelity which ran to sold-out houses and earned raves from Chicago’s theatre critics including a three-star rating from the Chicago Tribune.