Bare: The Musical, Urban Souls Dance Company, Bering Memorial Methodist Church.
BARE -LY THERE
In 2006, the rock musical Spring Awakening created a sensation on Broadway with its twin themes of teenage angst and sexuality. Now a show with similar concerns but an explicitly gay bent debuts this month in Houston. Bare: The Musical , the story of two gay boys at Catholic boarding school, “has a strong cult following,” says O’Dell Hutchison, who directs the June 6–21 Country Playhouse production. “Since we announced the show a month ago we have had people calling from New Orleans, Atlanta, and New Mexico wanting to buy tickets.” The local premiere is only the sixth mounting of Bare in the United States, but the musical has enjoyed a popular life on CD since its 2000 debut. Following the travails of Jason and Peter and Ivy (the popular girl who wants one of them), Bare attracts audiences with the passion of its music and the simmering stew of its action. “Sexuality, self-expression, guilt, jealousy, and religion all play into the plot, which overflows with the kind of urgency and intensity associated with being a teenager,” promises the director. The cast — “some of the most talented 18–22 year olds I have ever seen,” O’Dell says — includes (l–r) Nathan McManus (Peter), Cindy Godell (Ivy), and Jason Wills (Jason).
Photographed by Yvonne Feece
On June 7, Mike Baerga (l) and Quincy Toliver perform as part of the debut of the Urban Souls Dance Company. The new company, established by artistic directors Harrison Guy and Walter J. Hull II, is a multicultural troupe inspired by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and local companies across the country. “We conceived Urban Souls with the initial concept of bridging the gap between urban life and dance theater,” Hull says. The first performance, held at the Morris Cultural Arts Center at Houston Baptist University, is titled Deeply Rooted, which is also the name of the solo piece that opens the evening. The June 7 concert features a dance called Scarlet Situation that deals with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Created by Guy and Hull, the piece was featured in 2006 at Dance Houston, the citywide festival, and received the top award for artistic achievement. Urban Souls, which is based at the Judson Robinson Jr. Community Center, also operates a junior company for youth ages 12–18. Details: www.urbansoulsdancecompany.com.
Photographed by Henry Yau
Following antigay decisions made by their denomination, members of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church and their pastor, the Rev. Andy Noel (pictured), face a conflicted relationship with their church this Pride month. “I was disappointed. I felt like I had been in a car wreck,” says Noel of the April 30 vote by delegates at the denomination’s General Conference, held in Fort Worth, to retain language that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. “That’s the ‘clobber clause’ that we were trying to remove” from official church policy, he says. At the same time, the delegates to the quadrennial event refused to adopt anti-transgender language and voted to reject violence or discrimination “based on gender, gender identity, sexual practice, or sexual orientation.” The one-step-forward-two-steps-back position is similar to stances taken by other mainline Protestant denominations in recent years. “It’s more of the same,” Noel says. “Nothing major has changed.” What also remains the same is the fact that the 160-year-old Bering is one of its denomination’s Reconciling Ministries Network congregations, which welcome all people regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Bering, which maintains an active connection to the GLBT community, was the first such congregation in Texas.
Photographed by Yvonne Feece