Bare is the story of two high school boys who are in love. The fact that they attend a Catholic High School and one of the boys is a semi-closeted nerd and the other a closeted jock only adds to the drama. Add to the mix a straight couple who have their own issues, including the girl of that couple falling for the closeted jock, drug use in teenagers, the views of Catholicism on homosexuality and your usual teen angst and you have two hours of teen drama that, as I said before, we've pretty much seen before in various after school specials, movies of the week and "special" episodes of tv dramas.
|Taylor Trensch and Jason Hite|
And while most of the rest of the supporting characters were one dimensional, mainly due to the book of the show and not the actors, I really liked Barrett Wilbert Weed who plays Jason's drug dealing sister, Elizabeth Judd as Ivy who had some scandal in her past that made her transfer schools and Gerard Canonico as Matt, who is in love with Ivy and hopes that she is really in love with him. Missi Pyle as Sister Joan, the one compassionate teacher at the school was quite effective not only in this part of a caring and thoughtful teacher but also as the "dream" Virgin Mary who comes to answer Peter's "911" call. Pyle was able to handle the demands of the score but even Wilbert Weed, Judd and Canonico struggled a bit, which makes me believe the casting for the show was more focused on finding actors who can sing then singers who can act.
|Barrett Wilbert Weed and the cast|
Stafford Arima directs this production and it is interesting that he decided to direct this show considering earlier in the year he directed the off Broadway production of Carrie, which is also a show set in a high school with plenty of religious overtones. Arima manages to keep the action moving and focused as well as effectively uses the set in staging the various locales of the show, but I wish he had found a way to better focus the parts of the show where the cast is basically just screaming out the lyrics.
Bare is one of those musicals where there are about six or seven really good songs surrounded by others that are just so-so. With two leads and a talented ensemble, a nice set design and serviceable direction it manages to effectively get across the message behind the issues surrounding the teenage characters in the show. I just wish there was less screaming and slightly better singers in the cast.
Official Show Site
Performance highlights from the show:
"Are You There?" Gerard Canonico and Taylor Trensch perform at Broadway on Broadway: