×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bare

Organized religion's inability to deal with homosexuality has become a hot subject for local playwrights as of late. The current Zephyr Theatre production of Del Shore's "Southern Baptist Sissies" peruses the angst-ridden lives of four gay Texas youth. Now, the monumentally ambitious pop opera, "Bare," explores the tragic love affair of Jason (John Griffin) and Peter (John Torres), two Catholic high school students at upscale St. Celia's Boarding School.

With:
Jason - John Griffin Peter - John Torres Nadia - Keili Lefkovitz Ivy - Jenna Leigh Green Matt - Wallace Smith Clair - Robin Karfo Tanya/Cherub - Stephanie Hill Diane/Cantor - Jennie Kwan Lucas - Philip Dean Lightstone Jake/Saint Jude - Reed Prescott Sister Chantelle - Stephanie Anderson Priest - Mark Edgar Stephens

Organized religion’s inability to deal with homosexuality has become a hot subject for local playwrights as of late. The current Zephyr Theatre production of Del Shore’s “Southern Baptist Sissies” peruses the angst-ridden lives of four gay Texas youth. Now, the monumentally ambitious pop opera, “Bare,” explores the tragic love affair of Jason (John Griffin) and Peter (John Torres), two Catholic high school students at upscale St. Celia’s Boarding School. The team of Jon Hartmere Jr. (book, lyrics) and Damon Intrabartolo (book, music) have wrought a magnificent, totally original contemporary musical extravaganza that explores the schism between youthful passion and theological dogma.

In a tour de force staging by Kristin Hanggi, an amazingly talented 21-member ensemble soars through this insightful tale of contemporary youth who have been given all the advantages of life except the guidance of how to live it. But the story line is less memorable than the 32-song score that is an adroit amalgamation of contemporary pop, alternative rock, new age sounds, rap and flat out rhythm ‘n’ blues. Underscored brilliantly by keyboardist Intrabartolo and a facile six-member instrumental ensemble, the almost nonstop flow of musical numbers accomplishes the seldom realized ideal of facilitating the story while offering individual musical gems that can stand on their own.

The plot focuses mainly on the senior year dilemmas of casually self-confident “golden boy” Jason, the school’s star athlete and top scholar, who is also nonchalantly enjoying the secretive sexual favors of his deeply introspective best friend Peter. As the senior year progresses, Jason is overwhelmed by a plethora of social pressures, complicated by the tenacious attention of school beauty, Ivy (Jenna Leigh Green), and Peter’s growing need to declare his homosexuality and his love for Jason. Fear of being exposed and losing his recently won scholarship to Notre Dame drives Jason out of Peter’s bed and into Ivy’s, causing a downward spiraling series of events that eventually leads to a tragedy that cannot be prevented by the sympathetic but theologically narrow-minded counsel of the school’s Priest (Mark Edgar Stephens).

The musical highlights are many. Griffin’s Jason and Torres’ Peter exude a tangible passion as they soar through the wonderfully melodic romantic duets, “You and I,” “Best Kept Secret,” “Ever After” and the searing “Bare.” Peter also joins anxiety-laden overachiever Matt (Jason Henkel) in a musical plea for God’s guidance in the beautifully cathartic, “Are You There.” Green, who spent three seasons as the villainous Libby Chandler on “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” exudes a romantic sensuality in Ivy’s “One Kiss” duet with Jason and then offers a devastatingly emotional “All Grown Up.”

Two performances that really steal the show are Keili Lefkovitz’s sadly comical turn as Jason’s slovenly, overweight sister, Nadia, and Stephanie Anderson’s soul-singing, thoroughly hip nun, Sister Chantelle. Lefkovitz is devastatingly self-deprecating as she rips through “Plain Jane Fat Ass” and offers a hauntingly fragile “Spring,” an ode to loneliness that is underscored by an excellently performed Bach sonata by cellist David Mergen. Anderson is an awe-inspiring vocal force as she powers her way through the Supremes-like “Mother Love” (backed up by self-serving cherubs Charity Hill and Tassa Hampton) and the gospel-rich “God Don’t Make No Trash.”

The full ensemble is displayed to great effect on the surrealistic first- and second-act openers, “Epiphany” and “Wedding Bells.” They also enliven the celebratory rave party anthem “Wonderland,” and the sarcastic “Birthday, Bitch!” Their show closing “No Voice” is an ominous indictment of a church that fails to hear or understand them.

The success of this production is admirably facilitated by the inventive sets of Dustin Lance Black & William Kaufman, the mood-enhancing lighting of Jay Bolton, the dead-on costuming of Larisa Olson and the perfectly balanced sound design of Casey Stone.

Popular on Variety

Bare

Hudson Main Stage Theatre, Hollywood; 99 seats; $27.50 top

Production: A God Help Prods., in association with Hudson Main Stage Theatre & Elizabeth Reilly, presentation of a pop opera in two acts. Book by Jon Hartmere Jr. & Damon Intrabartolo,

Creative: Music by Intrabartolo, lyrics by Hartmere, directed by Kristin Hanggi. Executive producer, John Ottman. Sets, Dustin Lance Black & William Kaufman; lights, Jay Bolton; sound, Casey Stone; costumes, Larisa Olson; choreography, Onalee Hunter; conductor/keyboards, Intrabartolo. Opened Oct. 14, 2000; reviewed Oct. 20; runs until Nov. 19. Running time: 2 HOURS, 35 MIN.

Cast: Jason - John Griffin Peter - John Torres Nadia - Keili Lefkovitz Ivy - Jenna Leigh Green Matt - Wallace Smith Clair - Robin Karfo Tanya/Cherub - Stephanie Hill Diane/Cantor - Jennie Kwan Lucas - Philip Dean Lightstone Jake/Saint Jude - Reed Prescott Sister Chantelle - Stephanie Anderson Priest - Mark Edgar StephensEnsemble: Natalie Avital, Camilla Ghedini, Susannah Hall, Tassa Hampton, Richard Hellstern, Jason Henkel, Matt Huhn, Joe Pinzon, Sierra Rein.

More Legit

  • Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works

    Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies' in the Works as a Movie From Heyday, BBC Films

    David Heyman’s Heyday Films, whose credits include “Gravity,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Marriage Story” and the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, and BBC Films have secured the film rights to Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s musical “Follies.” “Follies” will be adapted for the screen and directed by Dominic Cooke, a four-time Olivier [...]

  • Tina Turner The Musical

    How 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical' Tells the Icon's Traumatic Story

    It wasn’t the response Tali Pelman had hoped to receive. The group creative managing director of Stage Entertainment had traveled to Küsnacht, Switzerland, with one goal in mind: Convince Tina Turner that her life could be the stuff of a successful stage musical. “We walked in the door,” Pelman remembers. “Tina was already there, and she greeted [...]

  • Ben McKenzie

    'Gotham' Star Ben McKenzie to Make Broadway Debut in 'Grand Horizons'

    “Gotham” star Ben McKenzie will make his Broadway debut in Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” He joins a cast that includes Oscar nominees Jane Alexander (“Kramer vs. Kramer,” “The Great White Hope”) and James Cromwell (“Babe,” “L.A. Confidential”). The show has a strictly limited 10-week run and begins previews on Dec. 23, 2019, before officially opening [...]

  • The Great Society review

    Listen: Brian Cox on 'Succession,' Shakespeare, and the Crisis We're In

    Brian Cox is having a pop-culture moment with “Succession,” the buzzy HBO series in which he stars. But he’s also an accomplished theater actor with plenty of experience doing Shakespeare — and it serves him well in both “Succession” and in his current Broadway show, “The Great Society.” Listen to this week’s podcast below: Cox [...]

  • Scooby Doo Ella Louise Allaire Martin

    Scooby-Doo Live Theater Tour Is Goofy Dane's Latest Adventure

    From its 1969 start as a Saturday morning kids mystery cartoon series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” starring its titular, talking Great Dane and his four teenaged friends, has made adventure its staple. Once Hanna-Barbera’s successor, Warner Bros. Animation, took the leash, Scooby and company became a comic book, a board game, a series of video [...]

  • Tootsie Santino Fontana

    'Tootsie' Ending Broadway Run in January

    “Tootsie,” the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of the 1982 classic film comedy, will play its final Broadway performance on Jan. 5, 2020. When it wraps up its run, the show will have logged 293 regular and 25 preview performances at the cavernous Marquis Theatre, where it sometimes labored to draw big crowds. Last week, “Tootsie” [...]

  • Laurel Griggs

    Laurel Griggs, Broadway and 'SNL' Actress, Dies at 13

    Laurel Griggs, who starred in Broadway’s “ONCE the Musical” as Ivanka, has died. She was 13. An obituary posted to Dignity Memorial indicates she died on Nov. 5, and Griggs’ grandfather wrote on Facebook that her death was due to a massive asthma attack. Griggs made her Broadway debut when she was six years old [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content