Growing Into My Beard (the play)

storytelling / acoustic original music / dance / #Gingerrealness

filmed & edited by James Bell


'Growing Into My Beard' is one ginger's personal quest to understand & celebrate his identity AND to obtain TRUE LOVE --the kind that can ALWAYS be found in the movies starring Drew Barrymore (love you drew)... By way of original songs, dramatically told personal anecdotes and justified farcical movement, Bay weaves together a coming-of-age tale that is romantically nostalgic, profoundly authentic and above all HOPEFUL. 

"Original, hilarious and charming."
- Nancy Ngo, Pioneer Press

What does our audience have to say?


The year was 2015 and I was doing what every other artist I knew was doing: 
I was attempting to survive in NYC. 

April came around and an unexpected opportunity landed in my lap. After winning a whacky-and-whimsical East Village game-show called Cabaret Showdown, I received a glorious prize: an hour-long slot in a theatre to do ANYTHING that my wee ginger heart desired. I had one month to put it together.

Almost immediately I knew what that anything was: I wanted to (imagine Liza Minelli saying these next few words) write and perform my own solo show...

Things kicked into gear when my friend Artem Yatsunov agreed to come on board and direct this mysterious beast. He sat with me in various cafés from Bushwhick to Washington Heights as I read him my journal entries, reminisced about LOVE and what is was like growing up ginger. (BTW, I am FOREVER GRATEFUL to you Artem for those many hours you spent listening to me go on and on)...

Showtime came and I am proud to say, A SHOW WAS PERFORMED; It was raw, slightly random-at-times and yes it lacked a clear central story BUT DAMMIT it had heart and there was absolutely something right about it.

"...a fresh-faced, fierce and unapologetic performance."
-Otis Robinson (The Culture Vulture)
read the full review here

With Artem (the f*!king trooper) continuing as my director AND donning the producer hat as well, we would go on to take this still-growing beast to the Minnesota Fringe and Philly Fringe Festivals (summer of 2015).

ON THE ROAD the show was a constantly-evolving organism (and orgasm), which I have to add is a huge challenge for a director #Sorryyyyyyy; And over the course of these two festivals, performing in spaces as varied as the upstairs of a thrift store to an improv comedy theatre, the actual STORY started becoming clearer (THANK JEEZUS).

In 2016, together with Artem we would go on to take the show back to NYC and perform it at the One Catches Light Festival in Brooklyn and The Proud AF Festival at the Tank in Manhattan.

"To me, Bay's story is a great statement of why celebrating the acceptance of your queer identity is just as vital as acknowledging the struggle of being queer..."
-Artem Yatsunov

Then came the opportunity to perform G.I.M.B. in the UK. I was visiting Manchester at the end of that same year and Interplay Theatre (Leeds, UK) offered to have me for one night. Artem was in NYC so he was not available to join me this time, however another dear friend Claire-Marie Seddon would come on board to direct and help produce the strongest version Growing Into My Beard to date.

When showtime came I was fully prepared to tell THIS story; each-and-every different version of G.I.M.B. that I had done on the road with Artem, all those times that I had gotten up and just performed SOMETHING, even when it wasn't really clear why I was doing it, had amounted to this very performance right here and now.

So what made this performance SO EXTRA? Well, there in the audience sat one person in particular who unknowingly was my guest of honor.

As the performance came to a close, there in this repurposed church space in Armley, MUCH to his surprise and everyone else's, I brought him on stage and asked him to marry me.

he said yes. #YAS!

"Maybe it's because Bryan's performances is so romantic and heartfelt, but his interpretation of storytelling-meets-cabaret is just delightful."
-Bill Chenevert, Philly Weekly

As you can guess, the story does not end there. I mean that was the end of 2016 --JEEZ how time does FLY!

Since that epic proposal (if I may be so bold to say), I have had the pleasure of performing G.I.M.B. in my home state of Colorado (July 2017) as well as a fantastic return to Interplay Theatre for two performances (March 2018).

And my odd-ball story continues in this solo show I call Growing Into My Beard --An ever-evolving tale that I believe is a story about discovering love and about discovering who it is you are and how you want to share yourself with the world!

On that note, I hope you will join me in the theatre for G.I.M.B.'s NEXT performance. When is that by the way???