Theater Out, Orange County’s top LGBT theater, brings us a powerful musical by Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo.
BARE: THE MUSICAL depicts the story of young adults who who are faced with issues of identity, sexuality and spirituality. Set in a Catholic boarding school, the characters must each face their own battle as they try to navigate between adolescence and adulthood. In the midst of searching for their identity, many characters face an inner dilemma between conflicting feelings and beliefs.
Krystle Cruz, the Filipino American actress who plays Ivy, tells us why everyone should watch this powerful show.
Audrey Magazine: Why should we go see this musical?
Krystle Cruz: It’s already enough that kids in a normal public high school go through numerous issues, so putting this story behind a Catholic high school backdrop adds more urgency and conflict. People are usually quick to assume that due to the title, the production is filled with nudity but that is definitely not the case. The use of the word “bare” in this show pertains mostly to the baring of one’s soul, and how naked that can make us feel. Every character has at least one problem to confront that affects others in different ways. The music in the show is very similar to Spring Awakening and RENT, with a pulsating rock musical score and a little hint of R&B. Due to the language and some scenes, this show is recommended for mature audiences, preferably ages 14 and up.
AM: Can you tell us more about your character, Ivy?
KC: The name of the character I am playing is Ivy Robinson. The character in the script itself describes her as “pretty, popular and insecure”. She is known as the school whore, however, there are more layers to her personality that not everyone at school sees in her. To the world, she acts promiscuous in order to hide the vulnerability she keeps to herself. Ivy is very attracted to Jason, the over-achieving academic jock who all the girls swoon for and all the guys look up to. But the problem is that Jason has a secret relationship with his roommate Peter. Ivy is the kind of girl who is used to getting exactly what she wants, so when her attraction to Jason becomes a challenge, she does all that she can to win him over. [As a result, she is forced] to finally be vulnerable in front of everyone and show who she truly is inside.
AM: Explain the significance of casting a Filipina for this role.
KC: I think it’s very significant that Theatre Out cast a Filipina for this role because first of all, her last name is Robinson and that is definitely not a Filipino last name. There have been many productions of this show and it’s very typical that Ivy is played by a caucasian female. Going into the audition, I already felt against type for Ivy so I just hoped to get any role, even if it was an ensemble role. I really care about this show so I just wanted to be a part of it. After the audition & callback process, director David Carnevale gave me a call the next day and he offered me the role of Ivy. My initial reaction was, “What?!” because I simply could not believe that they would actually consider me to do it. But of course I was very excited and extremely happy to accept the role. I’ve seen that some people have found it interesting when I tell them I am playing Ivy because there is already a preconceived idea that she is supposed to be a pretty and popular white girl. I’ve even been asked by some reviewers who have come to our show so far about how I feel as an Asian-American being cast as Ivy and it catches me off-guard because I have been so focused on portraying the character to the best of my ability, rather than what people will think of me being an Asian girl playing Ivy. I think that as long as you can relate to her struggle with being an object of rumor and wanting what she can’t have, any beautiful and confident girl could definitely play this role. Being in this show has taught me that I am capable of more than I know, and that I should never limit myself to certain roles just because I am a Filipina. I’m very much inspired by Lea Salonga, a fellow Fil-Am singer/actor who has played many roles on Broadway, including her biggest role as Eponine in Les Miserables. Knowing that gives me enough fuel to keep pushing against the grain in the entertainment industry. Most importantly, I just want to be known for doing great work, aside from the fact of being a Filipina in a predominantly caucasian cast.