BWW Interviews: Two NAKED BOYS Bare It All Fully Clothed
NAKED BOYS SINGING just completed a rare West Coast engagement at The Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs to sold-out, and very enthusiastic, crowds. In my recent review I singled out Christopher Trepinski and Juan Guerrero as the two stand-out talents in this particular troupe and had the wonderful opportunity to chat with them about their backgrounds, career aspirations and "all things naked boys". Here are a few highlights from that conversation:
DG: I really enjoyed your performances the other evening. Since you're both here at the same time, we'll just have an informal conversation and either of you can jump in at any time. Let's start with where you're both from and the background and training that brought you to this point.
JG: OK. I'll start. (He laughs) So, I'm originally from Columbia. South America. I moved to Miami with my family when I was nine and then up to New York at eighteen. Went to school - I've been in theatre since high school - after I was done studying at AADA I booked Naked Boys Singing - I did it for two and a half months in Provincetown - the director and producer seemed to like me and they've talked to me about maybe doing it on the Off-Broadway stage - but until now, it's Palm Springs and Provincetown for me.
DG: So this was your first professional production?
JG: I did another professional show - two original plays by up and coming playwrights - they were done in several stages in New York and also in New Jersey. One of them was a workshop production, done originally at my school.
DG: And by AADA - you mean American Academy of Dramatic Arts?
JG: Yes, Thank you for not saying AMDA. I lot of people get them switched up. Not that I have anything against AMDA. It's just a different school.
DG: And you, Chris?
CT: I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and I've been dancing my entire life. I went to The University of Kansas for theatre and classical voice and then I moved to St. Louis to study voice - and then I did some summer stock in North Carolina - I've worked in Colorado and Pennsylvania - and then I danced for a couple of cruise lines for a year and a half and moved to New York in January of last year and booked Naked Boys the following March, so a couple months later. I've been in the Off-Broadway production since.
DG: So, any apprehension about auditioning for Naked Boys?
JG: Not for me. Honestly, I knew about the show. I hadn't seen it, but I had seen posters and advertising in the middle of Times Square. And it seemed like a lot of fun. I've never really had a problem with nudity. But, once I submitted my picture and resume I kind of forgot I had submitted myself for it - and then I didn't get a call until two months later when they decided to do the production in Provincetown - and I got a call and they said you can come in and sing naked. And I thought what did I submit myself for that I have to sing naked? What is this? (He laughs) I had forgotten that I had submitted myself for the job. Eventually I figured it out. So, anyway - for the callback they asked me to sing a song nude - I did it and I booked the job.
CT: My story is somewhat different. I actually saw the listing for the audition in Backstage and thought, "I don't think so". (He laughs) I never thought I would do a naked show in my life. But I guess it's a classic story - as a dancer, I knew the choreographer --they were looking for another person after they had the first call, and so they brought me in for the callback. And I got it.
DG: Do you feel there's any difference in the audience reaction to the show here in Palm Springs than there is in New York?
CT: Well, they're somewhat different audiences. In New York we tend to have mainly bachelorette parties - a lot of women - not so much of a gay audience. But here, it's really fun to look out and see a sea of beautiful guys in the audience who are eager to see us. (He laughs)
JG: In Provincetown, as well. In Provincetown I expected a gay audience every night and we did, obviously, have a majority of gay men but the people who enjoyed it a lot more than we thought they would were women and straight guys who wanted to go see a nude show.
CT: And lesbians. (They both laugh)
JG: Lesbians love it! Sometimes they come in with a lot of inhibitions saying "I don't want to see this" but they come in and have a blast because it's funny and fun and inclusive.
DG: So, what are your career aspirations?
CT: Well. I would like to continue being a working actor. (He laughs) I want to continue being employed, so that is my number one goal. But, Broadway is something I have my eyes on.
JG: For me, yah, I love the theatre. That's what I fell in love with. I've done a little bit of film recently but my heart definitely lies in theatre. Musical Theatre, but I'm also interested in straight theatre as well. So, I hope to continue doing this the rest of my life.
DG: There's got to be at least one great, crazy backstage story in a show like this.
JG: There's so many it would be hard to think of just one.
DG: Something that's PG. please. (They both laugh for a long time)
CT: Well. Two times a week I get to show up to work with five beautiful naked men, so ...
JG: I'm trying to think of one story that would be a highlight. (Pause) Oh, well this summer in Provincetown we had one of the naked boys - the one who does "Naked Maid" -- during the middle of the song he broke his foot during one of the cartwheels and he just kept going through the whole show, crying backstage after every number, but going on with a broken foot 'cause he didn't want to ruin the show. So, after the show we had to replace him. So, that's a good story --- well, not a very funny story, but ... oh, I know ... In The Provincetown production we didn't have a bathroom backstage so we had to have a pee bottle. And no one thought we'd ever have to use it - but one night I was the one who had to use it ... I broke it in.
DG: How many of the cast members in this production are in the current Off-Broadway production?
CT: Two. Me, and David. We're all "alumni" who have come together for this Palm Springs show.
DG: What's something someone would never know about you by looking at your resume?
JG: There's one thing I guess you wouldn't know about me from my resume. I'm obsessed with water. Water sports - being underwater - I feel like I was a dolphin in a past life or something. I have a scuba diving license, advanced scuba diving, night scuba diving, I was a jet ski instructor, lifeguard when I was in the Miami. It's insane how obsessed I am with underwater life. I'm obsessed with underwater art.
CT: I love knitting. I knit, There, I said it.
DG: If you weren't doing this - or if this didn't pan out quite the way you want it to - what else might you be doing?
CT: I've been trying to answer that question for the past two years. There's nothing else I could be doing.
JG: There are other things I enjoy doing - but nothing else that will fulfill me like theatre does.
DG: Advice for someone who wants to do this for a career?
CT: If you can think of something else you could be doing with your life - do it! You'll be faced with a lot of adversity, a lot of negativity - but it's all in how you handle it. If this is truly what you want to do then don't listen to other people. Just stick with it.
JG: Yeah, your heart has to be in this a thousand percent. You have to love it. Your gonna have to sacrifice a lot - family, relationships - in order to get anywhere in this business. It's gotta be your one true love - that's what it is for me. If it's not for someone else I'd say go for something else because it's probably gonna make you a lot happier.
DG: Final question. If it were all over today, how would you want to be remembered on your tombstone?
CT: (He laughs, and laughs) A giant amongst men.
JG: I went out doing it with "nothin' but the radio on". (His solo turn in "Naked Boys Singing", for reference).