“Bare: A pop opera” at Muhlenberg

A student-produced and student-directed production tells a compelling story about identity.

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Jake Hoffman and Alec Gould perform in "Bare: A pop opera" || Photo by Maddie Ciliento '25

Disclaimer: The author of this piece was involved with this production

Friday Mar. 31 and Saturday Apr. 1, the Seegers Union Event Space hosted the live performances of “Bare: A Pop Opera,” a full-length sung-through musical theatre piece produced by Jake Hoffman ‘23 and directed and music directed by Abby Schechter ‘24, with assistant musical direction by Lily Arovas ‘23 and stage management by Emma Walter ‘25. 

“Bare,” a contemporary pop-rock musical with a book by Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere, Jr., music by Intrabartolo and lyrics by Hartmere, is centered around the lives of several students at a Catholic boarding school, as they come to terms with ideas of sexuality, personal identity and the impending future. 

“It was definitely a crazy busy process, but it was so informative, educational and so much fun,” explained Schechter. “I think I learned a lot about myself as a director and also communication and how to schedule with people. I also was able to really dive into this story. It is one that means so much to me, and being able to share that with people is something that is one of the things that drew me to the show initially.”

“The most rewarding part of the producing experience is the ability to look at the final product and be able to say “we did that.”

-Jake Hoffman ’23

The show featured high-quality instrumental tracks, as well as a full lighting and sound element thanks to the help of lighting designers Jonah Adamcik ’19, assistant director of Seegers Union and the student experience and Ben Goldstone ‘24, both with ‘Berg Production.

To Hoffman, who took on the responsibility of securing the rights to the show, as well as bringing many of the administrative aspects of the show together prior to the rehearsal process, performing “Bare” at Muhlenberg has been a years-long dream come to fruition. Hoffman also served as the lead in the show.

“The most rewarding part of the producing experience is the ability to look at the final product and be able to say “we did that.” To be able to watch an idea flourish and evolve into its final product shows a testament to the power of creative thinking and problem-solving. Despite setbacks and unforeseen circumstances, we were able to put on a show. If nothing else, it was able to happen and provide an experience for so many students, in the cast, production team, creative team, tech team and audience,” explained Hoffman.

“This show and this process were nothing short of incredible,” said Charlotte Alexander ‘25, a cast member. “This story is one that is so deep and so special to all of us, and the whole show weekend was magical thanks to everyone involved.”

I hope every audience member went home and told their loved ones how much they love them.”

-Abby Schechter ’24

The rehearsal process was completely student-run and student-curated through-and-through, and the production team took on the responsibility of overseeing this project from its beginnings all the way to a final product. Naturally, such an undertaking was met with numerous challenges, but the team was prepared to take on whatever came their way.

“The biggest challenge was trying to anticipate everything that could go wrong and trying to get ahead of those potential issues,” detailed Hoffman. “Obviously, no one can foresee the future, but we did our best to plan for all possibilities. We had backup plans for spaces, lighting, costumes, casting, funding and anything else under the sun. As a consequence, though, the production team was constantly trying to balance the reality of what was happening currently in the production in the present, as well as with the future of the process.”

“I hope every audience member went home and told their loved ones how much they love them,” said Schechter. “And I hope that it was an enjoyable way to kind of give some thought to the things that are important in life. And really just taking care of each other, and I hope that the audience is able to reflect in a way that is beneficial.”

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