Pioneer Performance Series Taps Entire Community

3/24/2011

The Performing Arts Office 's 10th Pioneer Performance Series production, Bare: A Pop Opera, told the story of two students struggling with their homosexuality in a Catholic boarding school.

Bare deals with serious themes, such as the intersection of LGBTQ issues and faith, personal identity, body issues, and teen suicide. The student production raised funds for the Trevor Project, a non-profit group that works for suicide prevention in LGBTQ youth.

Student production

The musical featured a cast of students, who were joined by faculty, staff, and alumni.

Health and Wellness Services Director Richard Arnold appeared as a priest in Bare, his first Pioneer Performance Series production.

Communication and Journalism Professor Vicki Karns played a students’ mother. She was a part of the inaugural Pioneer Performance Series show, The Vagina Monologues, in 2002, and later had roles in productions of The Laramie Project and The Exonerated.

Varied perspectives

"Richard and Vicki were incredibly valuable additions to the cast,” said Performing Arts Office Director Kristin Baker, who directed Bare. “Both are seasoned performers and, as any CJN student or visitor to our Health and Wellness Center can tell you, really fun people to be around.

“Having faculty and staff in the rehearsal hall adds enormously to the student experience by adding a level of professionalism and a different perspective on the play, especially with a play that raises difficult social and political issues, like Bare. Richard and Vicki both gave powerful performances in challenging roles, so their presence in the cast added greatly to the audience's experience as well."

Alumni guidance

The show also tapped the talents of alumni Jamie Montessano '02 and April Duquette '09.

Montessano, an educator, performer and dance teacher, choreographed the production.

Duquette, a theater and dance teacher who performs in the Boston-area, served as Bare's assistant director.

"The perspective and connection that is found between our students and the alumni that we bring in is very powerful,” said Kathleen Maloney, associate director of the Performing Arts Office. “These alumni can speak to them from the viewpoint of someone who has gone through the same kind of rehearsal and production process, because they were in those casts numerous times during their tenure at Suffolk."

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