Farmington Hills-based theater group wins grant for ‘Bare’

With a $3,000 grant from Detroit-based CultureSource, Thistle Rose Theatre Academy of Arts will, in 2020, bring a controversial pop opera to an as-yet-unnamed Farmington area venue.

Creative Director Rachael Rose said the idea for “Bare: a Pop Opera” came from Danielle Morris, who played “Ursula” in the company’s “Music by Mencken” revue, staged in June.

“We were going to do ‘Titanic’, because it’s a singers show,” Rose said. “They wouldn’t allow us to do the concert version, so the budget would have been huge.”

Morris had dreamed of doing “Bare,” and so proposed it to the Thistle Rose board of directors. It is not, by any means, an easy show – the story includes two male Catholic boarding school students who fall in love, an unwanted pregnancy, drinking, drugs, and a death by overdose.

While difficult, the subject matter is relevant, Rose said. “This is what is happening in our community. Why are we not looking at it?”

To create a broader experience, Thistle Rose is putting together a panel of speakers including local ministers and representatives from nonprofit organizations “on all sides of the fence.” Because the show deals with such difficult issues, extra attention will be paid to ensuring cast members are supported as well.

Rose, who said she was raised in the Christian faith, fully expects some backlash. The production will be designed to give people a safe space to question and look at uncomfortable things.

”I want this to challenge people,” she said. “The reality is, these are real issues. These are faith issues. If we get one person to know they have somebody to turn to when they’re struggling or suffering, we’ve done our job.”

“Bare: a Pop Opera” will be staged May 14-17, 2020. While the venue isn’t set, Rose said the board has had conversations with a local church about hosting the show.

Thistle Rose recently closed a production of “Dracula”, and the nonprofit’s next production is “Noel,” a December concert featuring the Thistle Rose Community Choir. To learn more about the organization, visit

The $3,000 ”Creators of Culture” grant program targets projects that may not qualify for larger grants, because they are small, new, or informal, but “have the capacity for positive artistic and social impacts.” To learn more about the grant program, visit

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