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Actor Cory Strong stars in Bare premiering July 17 at the Hart House Theatre.

2009-07-06
Theatre actor Cory Strong thought for sure he'd blown his audition for a role in Bare, the critically acclaimed rock musical that premieres July 17 at the Hart House Theatre. The newly minted Bloor West Village resident had plenty of auditioning experience in his short theatre career and could tell when he wasn't doing so hot - or so he thought.
Two weeks later, to his surprise, the 22-year-old received a call back. And, the rest as they say is history. Two weeks into rehearsals, Strong said he is "getting the kinks out." He is cast in an ensemble role and is the understudy for two main characters. Strong is one of 19 cast members tackling themes of teen sexuality, religious angst and unrelenting social and family pressure. It's the tale of five students at a co-ed Catholic boarding school deep in the throws of teenage angst. They're coming of age, coming out and coming to terms with parental and peer expectations as well as from the church. They're questioning where they are in their lives while contemplating their future and their place in it.
Bare delves into themes of forbidden love, alienation and spiritual confusion, not unlike such productions as Rent and Spring Awakening.
"It's a show that really brings emotions to the table. You can't hide from them," said Strong. "At the end, you leave with a new way of thinking."
It was a production Strong had known about for at least two years and when a friend heard that open auditions were being held, she suggested Strong go for it. A graduate of the St. Lawrence College of Music Theatre Performance Program, Strong was cast as Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Munkustrap in Cats and Clifford Bradshaw in Cabaret. A native of Pontypool, Ontario, Strong cut his acting chops on the Academy Theatre Stage in Lindsay where he performed in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and West Side Story.
Theatre was somewhat of a departure for Strong. He was headed for a teaching profession. That was until he spent a week at theatre camp. That's when he was bitten by the theatre bug.
"There was no curing me," he said. "Right now, I am so smitten with theatre."
Relocating to Toronto in January, he chose the Bloor West neighbourhood because his grandmother lived here in her late teens and early 20s.
"Everything's falling into place," Strong said.
Even though he's immersed in Bare, Strong continues to audition. He said he's been to six auditions in the last week. He credits his family and friends' support for his success so far. Bare is Strong's Toronto debut.
Bare opens July 17 and runs until August 1 at the Hart House Theatre. Tickets are $35 for adults; $25 for seniors and students; $20 for groups of 10-plus. Call the box office at 416-978-8849 or visit www.watersedgeproductions.net