REVIEW: Bare, a pop opera

Last night I attended Bare, a musically-charged and sexuality-questioning explosion propelled from the stage and onto the laps of the audience. Certain songs were heavy with harsh beats and foot stomping rhythms, while others captured your heart, a cello pleading softly from the pit. If I could only choose one thing that I liked most about this musical, however, it would definitely be the lyrics. They were so heart felt and poetic; I found myself thinking over each refrain, even after the song was long ended.

Basement Arts put on the performance, so we were sure to get there early to form a line outside the doors. It was in Studio 1 at the Walgreen Drama Center and if you’ve ever been in there you know how small and intimate a theater it is (which was absolutely stellar for this performance). Tickets are free, so everyone just waits in line hoping they’ll be room for them inside. I’m pretty sure they didn’t have to turn away many, if any, people last night, so that’s good.

The Spectrum Center sponsored the event, so I had a hunch on what to expect in the plot. And if that didn’t clue you in to the sexuality themes of the musical, the cover of the playbills would reinforce the message. One key idea in the musical was how to know what is right or normal when those people and institutions in your life, like your parents, school, church, tell you it’s wrong. It was a very moving performance, and the story itself led to many open discussions on issues such as drugs, sex, alcohol, love, the church…etc. These heavy and controversial subjects were handled with respect and consideration, which was good because of the wide range of audience members present. I thought it was beautifully done.

Furthermore, the actors were fantastic and the singing was pretty good; however, probably not one of the best vocals I’ve heard out of a student theater organization. The students didn’t have microphones, so I did appreciate that they had to compete with a drum set, cello, keyboard, and bass guitar to be heard. I thought the two leads, Sam Lips and Michael Hartung, along with the mother of the main character were extremely talented. They stood out the most to me, in terms of talent.

What’s interesting about this musical is it has never been on Broadway, only off. It has performed in numerous tour productions all over the country, but never has it been accepted to perform on Broadway. After seeing the show, and discussing it with a few friends, I think I understand why it has never been able to perform on the same stages as Les Miserables or Wicked or The Phantom of the Opera. It’s good, but the plot is somewhat one dimensional and cliché, in my opinion. The ending, which I’ll refrain from giving away, is somewhat of a cop-out. Not to sound insensitive to the issue it presents, but it does leave the audience a bit dissatisfied (and not like a comfortable open-ending either, but just like…wait, you are really going to ignore the other characters right now??). For me, the story was really focused on Peter, a student at a Catholic school in love with his best friend Jason. I felt the ending shifted away from the struggles of Peter and onto Jason. If I were to rewrite the plot, I would change a few scenes to develop Jason’s character further, especially considering he’s the character we are thinking most about at the end of the show.

Bottom line, it really was a great show, and I’m glad I attended. Supporting Basement Arts and the Spectrum Center AND World AIDS week is always excellent – especially all at the same time!

P.S. If you were wondering who was the creeper running around the Walgreen Drama Center taking pictures with all the Little Women posters…that’d be me. Preview and review coming soon!!!

PREVIEW: Basement Arts and The Spectrum Center present BARE

Sponsored by World AIDS Week, Basement Arts presents “BARE: A Pop Opera.” I’ve heard so many great things about this show, and I’m so excited to finally get a chance to see it. And it’s FREE! Basements Arts with support from The Spectrum Center is putting on this sure-to-be-stellar musical at the Walgreen Drama Center on North Campus, Studio One. UM Events website says, “A group of high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school faces issues of sexuality and personal identity…they struggle to come to terms with who they are, and who the world thinks they should be…” (UM events). It is sure to be a fantastic event; especially since the other event I went to sponsored by the Spectrum Center was absolutely amazing. I don’t think we will be disappointed.

The performances of “BARE” run December 1st 7pm-9pm, Dec. 2nd 7pm-9pm and 11pm, and Dec. 3rd 7pm-9pm. Attending is free and more information regarding World AIDS week can be found at their website:

Hope you can make it!

Review: 8-Prop and Problem

Another event celebrating the birth of the Spectrum Center was the first ever reading of the play “8” by Dustin Lance Black. It was an interesting experience. I had never been to a live play reading before. It was sort of like watching a regular play, except the actors carried the scripts around on stage with them and didn’t deliver the lines quite as well as they would have, though they still did an amazing job. It was also really great because many of the actors were the same Broadway UofM alumni that had performed the night before at the Pink Carpet Gala.

The play was based on the transcripts of the trial in California fighting against Proposition 8. This amendment to the Constitution of California banned gay marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages. The trial was not broadcasted nationally,

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although the plaintiffs did fight for it to be. Because of this, the only record we have of the trial is the transcript, and from this document Dustin Lance Black wrote a creative interpretation. His play will be making a tour around the country at many universities. Hopefully it will help spread awareness of what is happening in California and in the rest of the country when it comes to the rights of TBLG people.

Attending this event was sort of like attending a court trial, as it was staged like one, except that it gave us the bullet points of what happened and also introduced the families that were fighting together against the proposition and the ad campaign used by the supporters of Prop 8. It was sort of funny watching this depiction of the trial, because I’ve always wondered how conservatives defend their “values” like banning same-sex marriage. I always wonder what kind of evidence and argument they can come up with. This is exactly what I thought it would be like. The defense could not provide evidence or even an argument. Its witnesses were absent from court because they were afraid to defend their own words on the witness stand. The one witness that did get cross-examined ended up supporting the plaintiff’s argument, completely crushing any chance the defense had.

The outcome of the case was that same-sex marriage would not affect the rate of different-sex marriage or the rate of procreation, which is the argument the defense was trying to use. The plaintiffs won, though it is being repealed and we are still fighting Prop 8 to this day. The best thing we can all do about it is to stay informed and educate others on what has happened. I believe that is what Dustin Lance Black is trying to do with his play and I hope it works.

For more info on Prop 8, please visit or search it online for other websites that you might prefer. Also, just a fun video that came out around the time of the trial;

Prop 8 the Musical
Prop 8 the Musical

Sending you love and light,

Danny Fob

(Coffee is on me if you can name the show that my sign off is from!)

Review: Gala Greatness-Let’s Do it for 40 More!

The Spectrum Center’s Pink Carpet Gala event happened this past Friday at Hill Auditorium, and both I and my colleague Kayla Silverstein enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Since she already gave it such a raving review of the event, I would like to just provide my own personal experiences with the show, because it really was all that Kayla said it was, and more.

The speeches were incredible. Absolutely inspiring. Especially as a gay identified student here on campus that has spent a lot of time in the Spectrum Center and learned so much from the volunteers and employees that work so hard there. I am proud to have been able to celebrate so many milestones in my past three years here with the Spectrum Center. Their programming took me to the National Equality March in 2009, MBLGTACC 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin, gave me the opportunity to participate on an executive level with the planning of MBLGTACC 2011 here at the UofM, and has helped me become the proud Gay man I am today. This event meant so means so much to the community because it was the first ever office on a college campus to deal with LGBT issues, and as the co-founder and first publicly out gay person in Michigan, the speech of Jim Toy was the most hard hitting for me. This man is a legend in the LGBT activism world, and it is an honor to have met him on numerous occasions.


The speeches of Chris Armstrong and his father also brought me and most of the people around me to tears. It wasn’t so long ago that Chris was being targeted and slandered, and his family is so moved that our campus stood up and supported Chris in such a huge way. I’ve known Chris ever since my freshman year. He is a fantastic individual and it makes me proud to have been there with him, standing on the diag and at Gayz Craze with him. Andrew Shirvell approached me one time during his time here on campus, and him knowing my name and face before he met me was a little terrifying, so I can only imagine how Chris felt. UofM has proven once again exactly what the Michigan Difference is and that we will stand by our own.

Anyway, to the performers, since that what I’m really supposed to write about. Gavin Creel is amazing. I have to admit, I knew nothing about any of the performers before Friday (I’m more of what I like to call an “Old Gay” in that I listen to people like Patti Lupone, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, Dick Van Dyke). I absolutely loved Gavin Creel though. This man, I believe, was THE performer of the night. He sang Something’s Coming from West Side Story and I swear I couldn’t stop gripping the arm of the person next to me. He was amazing.

Gavin Creel...All I can say is Yummy!
Gavin Creel...All I can say is Yummy!

Everyone that performed was amazing. I think Kayla pretty much sums up how I feel about the other performers, and about how the crowd felt in her review, so I won’t make you read it all again. I really just wanted to report how amazing it felt to be in such a large crowd of LGBTQA people with highly supportive performers and University of Michigan faculty members. The love available in this community is really like nothing else you can ever experience. Plus, we throw the BEST parties!

Stay tuned for more about the Spectrum Birthday Weekend! (And of course by stay tuned I mean read my other review!)
Sending you love and light,

Danny Fob

REVIEW: Broadway Comes Home

Our Women’s Glee Club president snagged free tickets for a few of us to go to the “Broadway Comes Home” concert Friday night, featuring Michigan alumni that have made it on Broadway. All I had to hear was Broadway, Gavin Creel, and free to nearly tackle our president, Allison, for a ticket to the show.

Rackham was lit up pink for the “walk the pink carpet” theme of the event. Fabulously dressed men took our pictures as we filed in and awkwardly avoided their lenses. Allison said it was formal attire required, so I felt especially classy in my slacks, boot, lacey top, and pearls. A man seated behind me was slightly classier, however, rocking a cocktail dress, heels, and sequined purse.

The event was dedicated to celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Spectrum Center. The Spectrum Center is an organization on campus that actively supports the LGBTQ community in Ann Arbor, offering guidance and support in a safe and welcoming environment. Interspersed between performances, many active members in the LGBTQ community spoke about their experiences and how the Spectrum Center has influenced them. It was possibly the most inspiring part of the evening. I heard how so many people have been impacted by the Spectrum Center and motivated with the knowledge that “it gets better.” The speakers, including our past student body president Chris Armstrong, were incredibly uplifting, spreading love, strength, and pride. The messages were universal, and I doubt there was a single person in the audience who walked away uninspired.

The musical performances, as my initial reason for coming, were just as inspiring. Gavin Creel, tony-nominated Broadway star, recruited several other Michigan alumni to accompany him in performing at this event. Creel was absolutely amazing and kicked the evening off to an outstanding start with “Could Be” from West Side Story. His enthusiasm on stage was infectious. His voice was beautiful. His shining moment of the night was his concluding song, “Let the Sun Shine In” from the musical Hair he himself sang on Broadway. The freshman class of the musical theater program this year accompanied him, encircling the audience and wowing us with their powerful sound.

And Gavin Creel wasn’t even the best performer of the evening (it was a close tie between all the alumni, in my opinion)! Other returning Wolverines included Celia Keenan-Bolger, an incredibly adorable person with a beautiful voice, and Maddy Wyatt. Those two sang a song they wrote together about gay marriage that was both hilarious and powerful. Others included Daniel Reichard, who starred in Jersey Boys on Broadway and actually sang “Don’t go, Baby” from that musical while backed up by three men from the musical theater department. The other featured performer was Danny Gurwin. I know him as having played Laurie in Little Women the musical on Broadway and a few other notable roles. What’s crazy too about Gurwin is he is actually directing the Little Women production U-M is doing in December (I’ll be previewing and reviewing that performances as well – can’t wait!!). Towards the end of the evening, all these Broadway-bound alumni joined together to sing “Ordinary Miracles.” It was gorgeous and gave me serious goose bumps.

When speakers weren’t presenting or Broadway alums weren’t singing, the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble was performing. I’d never heard them before, but they were so talented. I was blown away.

As you can probably conclude, this night marked one of the most epic performances I’ve attended all semester. So many amazing performers, speakers, and musicians – it was fantastic. I was absolutely inspired and I hope you get a chance to go to one of the Spectrum Center’s events because it is an admirable organization that deserves all the recognition it has acquired.

P.S. For more information on the Spectrum Center and the resources available there, check out their website: