Written by Real Mr. Housewife
Bare, the musical, is a rewrite of Bare: A Pop Opera, which has had a long cult following since its debut in Los Angeles in 2001. After undergoing extensive rewrites, the show is finally getting the production it deserved at the New World Stages in New York City.
Bare follows the story of a bunch of kids in a Catholic high school. Its primary focus is on Jason (played by Jason Hite), a jock, and Peter (played by Taylor Trensch), a nerdy kid, who is secretly in love with Jason. Both of them are not out of the closet, even though Peter has more of a desire to be.
One of the things I loved about Bare was the songs. While a large amount of the score has been rewritten or replaced, the songs in the new musical fit well, including the opener “A Million Miles From Heaven,” the revised and now better “Portrait Of A Girl,” and a duet called “You Don’t Know Me.” There were a few songs I missed from the original production, including “Promise,” which was now spoken rather than sung and “One,” the number that ends the first act, which was replaced with a much shorter version if it. Overall, though, the new songs sounded good and were sung with passion and heart.
The cast was also fantastic, especially Hite, and co-stars Barrett Wilbert Weed, and Elizabeth Judd who all have exceptional voices and sung their parts well. While Trensch’s voice was not as powerful as the rest of the cast, he was such a strong actor in the role that it was hardly noticeable. I also enjoyed the set, which featured a mosaic of tons of pictures that fans had sent in on Instagram prior to the show’s opening that formed a cross from afar.
While the cast, music, and set were great, the most important part of Bare was its social message of acceptance and the consequences of nonacceptance. The show has received some criticism that in a Glee generation, it no longer has relevance. I strongly disagree. While Glee does tackle acceptance, it sometimes does so in a comical way that — in my opinion – is far removed from what really goes on in high schools. Bare painted a much more realistic picture, that was far more gloomy and provocative than Glee has ever been.
It also was not afraid to cover topics such as teenage drug use not in a “let me teach you about this” way but in a “let me show you what’s really going on” manner and I, as a viewer, appreciated that. I also think Bare is much more controversial than Glee, as Glee has never covered the issue of religion and sexual orientation, which in certain faiths including the Catholic one, is still a major issue. For these reasons, Bare is an extremely important and relevant musical for our generation, and one that all teenagers should see with their parents, as it definitely would open the door for conversations that need to be happening.
Bare is currently playing at New World Stages at 340 W. 50th Street in NYC.