'Bent' is a play about gays held in concentration camps in WW2. If you've heard the term 'pink triangle,' it derives from the pink triangles gay Nazi prisoners had to wear. The play was written in 1979 and Richard Gere was in the original cast. You might have seen the film adaptation that starred Colin Firth.
A revival of the play is underway in Los Angeles and Jake Shears takes on his first acting role as a German drag queen (and she sings the only musical number in the show). As Shears tells Queerty:
Queerty: How did the opportunity to appear in Bent come to you?
Jake Shears: They came to me. They asked if I was interested in reading for the part and doing the show. At first I just assumed that if anyone was asking me to be in their play that it must be a really shitty play. [Laughs] I didn’t even look at who or what it was. I just saw an email that asked if I was interested in reading for the role of Greta. I didn’t know the play, but I didn’t even see the title in the email. I just saw the name Greta. I ignored it and they wrote to me again and I finally realized what it was. I saw that Moises Kaufman was directing and I love his work so much. I worked on the part for a few days on my own then went in and read for it.
Well, by now you must be familiar with the incredible legacy of the play.
Definitely. It’s such an awesome play. It’s been amazing talking to people who’ve seen it over the years. When I was writing the song for the show… The lyrics are in the show, but I wrote the music with Lance Horn, there were all these funny crossovers. We were writing one night and Alan Cumming came into the apartment. We sang it for him. He played Max in the West End in 2006. I’ve got a lot of friends who saw the original production on Broadway and told me stories about it. It’s been interesting. It’s a show that’s touched a lot of people. It’s been amazing to discover its legacy.
Greta is a very interesting, deceptively complex character. How would you describe her?
Greta is a drag performer who owns the club that Rudy dances in and Rudy’s boyfriend Max frequents the club and sells cocaine there. Greta is the mother of the house, but she’s also a businesswoman. She’s got a wife and kids.
The play spends the bulk of its plot showing the touching but non-sexual relationship of two gay men at the concentration camp.
While a depressing and stoic story, the new play does have its share of hotties playing lead roles. Broadway actor and cast member on 'Smash' Andy Mientus joins Shears and the rest of the cast in what I hear is a gripping adaptation of the play.
The play continues through Aug. 23, 2015, at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 628-2772.