Stage Review

Bare (2012)

BARE Pop-rock musical about gay high schoolers feels dated in a post-''It Gets Better'' world
Image credit: Chad Batka
BARE Pop-rock musical about gay high schoolers feels dated in a post-''It Gets Better'' world
EW's GRADE
B-

Details Opening Date: Dec 09, 2012; Lead Performances: Jason Hite and Taylor Trensch; Writers: Jon Hartmere, Damon Intrabartolo, Lynne Shankel; Director: Stafford Armia; Genre: Musical

Though Bare has been reworked since its first performance as a sung-through pop-rock opera in 2000, the new production at Off Broadway's New World Stages feels decidedly old. A dozen years is an eternity for a gay teen-themed show, here spotlighting a romance between two boys at a Roman Catholic high school — out nerd Peter (Taylor Trensch) and closeted jock Jason (Jason Hite).

That gay-teen love arena — and its portrayal in popular culture — have drastically changed in the past five years alone. Indeed, the closet is still a reality for some adolescents (and, yes, even adults), but in a post-Glee, post-''It Gets Better'' world, Bare feels somewhat regressive as it illustrates a suppressed, ultimately tragic relationship that is never really developed beyond one passionate night. Plus, the story heads down a crazy road of unbelievability near the end — we won't spoil it for you — that only adds to the overwrought, emo-ish vibe. (Although all that could certainly strike a chord with younger folks in the audience.)

There are good things about the show, though. The ever-sharp Missi Pyle (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) plays a smart, understanding nun and delivers handily during a hilarious scene where she also channels the Virgin Mary as a nightclub performer. Elizabeth Judd and Barrett Wilbert Weed are standouts in a show in which the boys get the more central roles. And while simplistic at times, the pop-rock score by Damon Intrabartolo (with additional songs by Lynne Shankel and lyricist Jon Hartmere) is mostly inspired. B–

(Tickets: Telecharge.com or 800-432-7250)

Originally posted Dec 10, 2012 Published in issue #1238 Dec 21, 2012 Order article reprints
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