Interview: 'It's Gonna Be Explosive': Jordan Luke Gage on Identity, Tight Timelines and Taking on Jason in BARE

'I'm hoping for a really fun night out at the theatre that people can leave feeling like they've learned something about themselves. '

By: Mar. 29, 2024
Interview: 'It's Gonna Be Explosive': Jordan Luke Gage on Identity, Tight Timelines and Taking on Jason in BARE
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Bare, a “coming-of-age rock musical,” is coming to the London Palladium for one night only on Sunday 7 April as a concert. BroadwayWorld spoke with Jordan Luke Gage, who is playing Jason in this production. We discussed how he first got into the world of theatre, what Bare means to him and what he hopes audiences take away from the performance.

How did you first get involved in the world of theatre?

When I was around 13 years old, my friend dragged me along to this theatre camp in the summer, and I had zero experience! I would sometimes sing around the house, but that was the absolute max. And so we both took part in this summer camp and they had a talent show at the end of the week. She pushed me into auditioning for it and I did! Then they gave me a slot in the in the talent show. So I sang “A Whole New World” at the town hall with my bleached, blonde-dyed fringe which was very cringe when I look back at the videos! [Laughs] So that was my first experience. It was lovely!

And that was how the bug started. And then for the rest of my teens I went to an amateur dramatics society, and then auditioned for Mountview and got in and trained there for three years. So that was my introduction into it. And then, when you graduate, it comes with all the trials and tribulations - getting an agent, trying to get a job . . . It's been a long process to get to this point now. 

What made you want to be in a part of this production of Bare?

Well, interestingly, it was one of the shows that I used to be obsessed with when I was younger - in a way, it saved me. When I was in my teens, I was struggling with a lot of the issues that are spoken about. I was coming to terms with who I am and my identity. And this was really the only musical I can remember that touched on that. And on top of that, the music was so cool and beautiful and harrowing in parts, but also felt really modern and the orchestrations had a rockiness. There were so many things I felt like I could relate to in the music that I prefer to listen to. So it was ticking all these boxes and it was helping me discover who I am as a person.

And so when this came along, and Jamie [Lambert] asked me if I would be interested, it was a no-brainer. It's never really been done here! It's been done on the really small scale of fringe theatre here, but it's never been done to a big wide audience like at the London Palladium. So it was a very quick yes. And then when they mentioned that Laurie Kynaston’s doing it as well, I was like, “Okay, yeah! Absolutely. No question.”

Interview: 'It's Gonna Be Explosive': Jordan Luke Gage on Identity, Tight Timelines and Taking on Jason in BARE
Artwork for Bare

For those unfamiliar with the show, can you tell us a little bit about the role you play within it? 

Yeah! So I play the role of Jason, and Jason and Peter are in high school. Jason is your stereotypical jock, guy next door, that kind of vibe, and girls throw themselves at him - he has no trouble when it comes to attention at school. But it's not really the kind of attention that he is maybe seeking. He's coming to terms with his sexuality, he's in the closet, and his journey through the piece is navigating how to survive in high school and how to create relationships with people.

It's interesting because I'd say the piece revolves around Peter’s narrative and Jason is very integral in that, but also we focus so much on his relationships with women and with his sister and all of these things. It will be really interesting to play somebody who is so guarded and portrays a completely different persona to who they are deep down. I'm really interested to be able to play into those two different sides of him. 

Do you have any favourite songs you’re looking forward to either performing or listening to?

I love the song “Once Upon A Time,” which Jason sings in the second act. Also “Role of a Lifetime.” Even though that will be Laurie’s song, that was a song that I auditioned for drama schools with, so that's something that I used to grow up listening to on my iPod when I was walking around. So that one I'm excited for. There's loads, to be honest! The mother has a duet with Peter, which is really lovely. There's a song called “Are You There?”, which is between two of the guys - love that duet. I mean, it's just full of bops! [Laughs] My ideal soundtrack.

What is it like taking on a concert version of a show versus fully staged production?

I mean, it's stressful! It's a different kind of stress, because the rehearsal process is much shorter. We typically have around a week to put the show on.

And the nature of these staged concerts is they are pretty much full productions - they pitch it like it's going to be a concert, but you know that everyone's going to be off book, there will be blocking, there will probably be some kind of a set, and a whole lighting design. So actually, it's like doing a fully-staged show, just with a quarter of the amount of rehearsal time! But there's also something really exciting about that as well, just being completely encompassed in that for for the week. Even though it's stressful, somehow, touch wood, they do always come together. And then when you're on the stage, there's this alchemy between everyone in the room. And what's so exciting about it is looking back at the end of the week, and thinking “Wow, as if we managed to all achieve that in such a short amount of time!” And also just the the the idea that it could potentially go on to do something else. You never know the life that it can have afterwards. If people really take to it, if somebody is interested in doing some kind of a production of it, that's always exciting, the anticipation of what could be next.

And are you excited to be at the London Palladium?

Yes! I love the London Palladium. So I performed there first in October, I did Bat Boy. And it was just such an iconic moment because I used to work on the bar at the London Palladium around eight years ago now. I remember Cats was performing and Nicole Scherzinger was in it. And I would always finish my bar shift and sneak in the back and watch her. It was a dream to be able to perform in that venue one day. It's the most iconic theatre in London! And so within the space of a year, to be able to do two of these concerts . . . I feel very, very lucky.

What do you hope audiences take away from Bare?

I hope it validates young people's feelings and struggles, things that they're going through. And I hope it's some form of therapy, if you will, because that's what it was for me when I was younger. So I'm hoping that young people who are coming to terms with who they are can take that away from it. And also, maybe it opens other people's eyes up. Maybe people who aren't in the LGBTQ+ community will watch it and have more empathy and realise the level that people can struggle with their sexuality and identity.

There's also topics which touch on suicide, and suicide amongst the LGBT community happens three times as much as the straight community. So that in itself will be a massive lesson - people probably don't know that. And also the older generation - maybe we'll have parents come along who leave feeling much more open and more accepting if they have a child who's gay and they've been struggling with it. I'm hoping it will just be a real lesson across the board for everyone, but also entertaining. It's not all doom and gloom and really heavy issues. There's also a lot of light and love and laughter. So I'm hoping for a really fun night out at the theatre that people can leave feeling like they've learned something about themselves. 

 And how would you describe Bare in one word?

Explosive! Explosive in many forms - emotion, the music, the lights . . . It's gonna be explosive.

Bare is at the London Palladium on 7 April