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Saturday 11 April 2015

Pride Preview: Actor Hamish Mouat on Bare

Posted in: Performance
By Jacqui Stanford - 14th February 2015

Bare has its New Zealand premiere this weekend as part of Auckland Pride Festival. It’s a Broadway rock musical which follows a group of high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school. Lead actor Hamish Mouat tells us more.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Hamish Mouat and I'm 21 years old from the North Shore. I work in youth and educational theatre, in choreography and administration mainly. I'm also at University studying a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Dance and will go on to get my secondary school teaching qualification following this.

When did you first get involved in musical theatre? What drew you to it?
I started drama classes at the age of five and was in my first musical aged eight (It was Oliver and I was an Orphan). I totally fell in love with the theatre from the moment I first stepped on stage. Getting to sing, dance and act in front of people was something I had always done around the house as a young child, but musical theatre gave me the opportunity to do this on a much grander scale.

I loved rehearsing and investing my energy towards a final product that constantly brought me so much joy. From the age of eight to the age of 19 I did at least three musicals a year (on average) and after a production of Grease, where I played Danny, I shifted my attention from the stage to the creative team. I've choreographed and assisted with choreography on eight musicals in that time and will be choreographing four more shows in 2015 (including Miss Saigon and Seussical). However, Bare has broken my two years away from performing and I am so grateful to be back on stage in one of the most incredible pieces of theatre I have ever come across.

What made you want to get involved in Bare?
When Auckland Music Theatre announced they were doing Bare, I researched it as I had never heard of it before. I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a show so quickly. I just immediately felt a connection to the characters, the circumstances and the music. I think it was announced in July with auditions in October and I listened to the soundtrack nearly every day through that period.

I wanted to play the role of Peter really badly but I didn't tell anyone because I was scared that if I didn't get it everyone would know I was disappointed! The creative team was also a huge draw card. I've worked with our Director, Aaron Tindell, before, when he directed me in Into The Woods and that was one of the most enjoyable theatrical processes I've ever been part of. Also, I had previously worked with our Musical Director, Andy Manning, and I knew he would bring the music to life in a respectful and intelligent way that would support the huge story these characters tell.

I guess what got to me most about the story of Bare, is how truthful and relevant the situations that the character's experience over the course of the piece are. Following the story of 12 Seniors at a Catholic Boarding School, the students face the honest truths of being a teenager, in several forms. There is nothing in this story that is 'make-believe' and in no way does it shy away from issues that challenge and confront teenagers of the world.

Told through some of the most high energy rock music known to Musical Theatre, we are creating a raw, honest story every night that pushes the boundaries. We can't live in a society that goes quiet when faced with the issues of sexuality, drugs, teen suicide and teen pregnancy. Confronting these issues onstage may not be what most people are used to when they venture out to the theatre, but the touching way in which they are presented to the audience makes for one extremely clever piece of theatre. That, partnered with a score of amazing music, drew me to this story more than any other show I know. I just can't express how proud I am to be part of a show like this, with such an incredible cast, creative team and crew. It's honestly the stuff dreams are made of for a performer.

Tell us more about your character?

My character's name is Peter, and Peter is central to the story along with his secret boyfriend Jason. Peter, an introvert without too much popularity, wishes his relationship with Jason could be open, yet Jason likes to keep the relationship secret and 'play straight' (due to pressures from the church, his parents and society). Peter's journey throughout the show is massive. Without giving too much away, he has to learn through the story who he is, what he wants and how to express his true identity. He has some wonderful scenes - one of the most potent being when he comes out to his mother. Peter is a truly unique character to any other role I've ever played - he is vocally and emotionally challenging, but definitely the highlight of my 14 years in the theatre. By the end of the show, he has developed an inner strength and resilience that is honourable for a teenager in his position.

What do you hope people take from the show?
One of my favourite things about this show is how every reaction is shown, and how you get to witness what happens to these characters following both positive and negative experiences. It makes the whole thing really human. When audiences see that, I really hope it opens their eyes and views to things they may have been closed-minded about in the past. Getting to see the weight of a suicide on those who are left behind, witnessing how real and beautiful the mutual romantic love of two boys can be - the list goes on. I really hope this show makes our audiences understand that these issues happen to people with emotions and feelings every day, and they shouldn't. We no longer live in a time where inequality is acceptable, and our show aims to make people see just how detrimental an absence of equality can be on people, especially youths. If one person turns up fighting against equality, and leaves fighting for it, then we've had a successful season.

Bare is showing at Westpoint Performing Arts Centre from February 14-28, with a special fundraising night for Rainbow Youth on Wednesday 18 February.

Tickets here

Jacqui Stanford - 14th February 2015

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