Q&A Quickie: Taylor Trensch, Star of 'Bare', Off- Broadway's Hit Gay Musical

By: Brandon Voss

A coming-of-age gay love story set in a co-ed Catholic boarding school, Bare is back and better than ever. Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo's cult pop-rock tuner, which debuted 2000 in L.A. and bowed 2004 in NYC, has been retooled and opened anew Dec. 9 at Off-Broadway's New World Stages. At the racing heart of the highly anticipated production are Taylor Trensch and Jason Hite as star-crossed gay lovers struggling with the idea of going public with their secret relationship. We caught up with Trensch to chat about his choice to be out professionally and his personal connection to his character.

Gay.net: You've appeared in Broadway's Wicked, you've toured in Spring Awakening, and now you're starring in Bare — all shows that have connected with and that are tremendously inspirational to young people, including the gay audience. What has it been like for you to be a part of that?
Taylor Trensch: It's a real privilege and an enormous honor. What I love most about theater is that it lets us know we are not alone. All three of those musicals have something really important to say about being true to oneself, which is an invaluable message and definitely something I could have stood to hear a few more times in my adolescence.

Tell me about your decision to be out professionally.
The decision was a no-brainer. As we continue on the road to total equality for the LGBT community in this country, publicly acknowledging one's sexuality seems to be a necessary step in gaining further momentum. We have to be honest. We have to engage.

At 23, you aren't too far removed from the high school setting of Bare. Can you still relate to your character Peter's struggle and secret gay affair?
Absolutely! Like Peter, I was the oddball who desperately wanted to blend in amongst the other students. I pegged myself as painfully mediocre at everything. I was willing to sacrifice anything and everything to maintain my first gay relationship. All of the characters in Bare are highly relatable because they are specific, fully developed human beings, as opposed to broad caricatures. I think audiences will recognize themselves onstage.

Both lead actors in the original NYC run of Bare were gay, but that isn't the case in the new production. Were there any challenges involved in creating chemistry with your straight costar, Jason Hite, because you don't share the same vocabulary of gay experience?
I met Jason Hite early in the audition process, and we hit it off instantly. The first time we read together in front of the creative team, I felt so comfortable with him and had a blast. Although I am not exactly Jason's type, we have both experienced first love and the accompanying joy, fear, excitement, anxiety, etc. It's thrilling to share the stage with him every night. He is a preposterously talented actor with a golden voice and a big heart.

What about working with So You Think You Can Dance's Travis Wall as Bare's choreographer? Is he just as dreamy in person?
Travis Wall is the dreamiest — and a dream come true to work with. At the beginning of this process, I constantly felt the need to apologize to him, because I am nowhere near the caliber of dancer that he's accustomed to working with. That feeling vanished when I got to know Travis better and learned that he's one of the most generous, caring, and hysterically funny guys on the planet. He has created exquisite movement that tells the story of Bare so clearly and looks beautiful on every member of the cast.

Bare is now playing at NYC's New World Stages.