Plays and musicals with strong themes focused on current social issues are always welcomed at Shot in the Dark Productions.
The theater’s latest show directed by Ian Curtis, “Bare: A Pop Opera,” delves into the lives of students at a Catholic boarding school struggling with identity, sexuality and their futures. The musical centers around the characters Peter and Jason, two boys that have fallen in love with each other but fear their relationship could cause problems inside and outside of school.
Actor David Chapman plays Jason in Shot in the Dark’s production of “Bare: A Pop Opera.” Chapman spoke to The Weekender about his character in the show as well as the play’s importance.
What do you think makes “Bare” stand out from other musicals that people might be more familiar with?
A lot of the shows that people are familiar with are… I don’t want to say “children’s shows,” but they’re children’s shows. That’s just what people are familiar with. Shows that I don’t want to say have a lot of substance, but they don’t have the deeper messages that our show has.
What are some of those deeper messages? Is the show bringing awareness to these topics?
Messages like homosexuality, teen pregnancy, suicide, drug use and even body image and homophobia. I think that it is bringing awareness. It portrays messages and such in a blunt way a lot of the times that everyone gets it. It’s not just sugar coating everything. It’s going to show you those messages, straight up. And you’re going to know what the show is going to say.
What is the music like in this show? Are there big dance numbers?
There aren’t really any big dance numbers. There is a very small amount of speaking parts. In between some of the songs there are these very small speaking parts – maybe three or four lines. But then we go right back into song. I’d say 95 percent of the script is music.
What do you appreciate about the show?
I connect with this show so much being gay. It’s so powerful in this time that we’re in right now and the state that our country is in and the state that Sioux City is in. There are not a lot of open-minded people in this town. People are moved by [“Bare”]. And that’s what I love about it. There are shows that I’ve done where people just see them and they understand the messages, but they’re not moved.
This is the most moving show. This show is by far the most moving show that has ever been to Sioux City. People that come to the show are going to be moved. If they come with an open mind and listen to it.
Why do you think theater is able to affect people in this way?
I think a big part of it is that people are there in the room with you and you can see what emotions they’re actually feeling. For me, I don’t just act the part. I am the part. I really cry and I really put everything into that role. And people see that and they feel that. They’re there and they feel that connection, that empathy. They understand more. In a movie, you see things and you cry and you can love characters, but you don’t have that connection with them because you’re not with them in the room.
And that’s something great about Shot in the Dark specifically. That stage is so small. Everyone is so close to you. It’s so intimate. You can feel every bit of energy in that room.
Have you had other lead performances in the past?
I’ve never been the lead before but I was the male supporting lead person in “Carrie” and I had a supporting role in Spring Awakening and stuff.
What’s that responsibility like? Were you feeling the pressure?
Oh yeah! I definitely did. This is the biggest role I’ve ever had in my life. And it’s the most important show I’ve ever done. So I feel like I have a lot of responsibility to make it great. The other two leads I’m sure have the same feeling. It’s big and we have a lot of messages to portray. It’s hard and it’s emotionally draining to play those roles and do the things that we do to portray those messages.
Why is this show so important to you?
I think the messages. I’ve talked about the messages so much but… I care so much about theater meaning something and people’s work meaning something. I refuse to be part of a children’s show now – they have their own messages but they’re not real-life or ever present. Our show is showing all these people all these messages all at once and they’re amazing messages and they’re ones people need to hear and know about in society, especially Sioux City and Iowa. I want everyone to be touched by this show in whatever way.