Orlando Fringe Review: BARE: A Pop Opera
BARE: A Pop Opera tells the story of Peter (Alexander Browne), a student at a Catholic boarding school who is struggling with his sexual identity; and his BMOC boyfriend, Jason (Tony Flaherty), who recklessly reveals their secret affair, despite fear of retribution from his absent father. When Jason gets fellow student Ivy (Chloe Robin) pregnant, the soap opera spirals into depression, drugs and inevitably death.
Resembling a parochial after-school-special doppelgänger of Spring Awakening, BARE is well-produced and well-intentioned but ultimately too clichéd to be engaging. Director Cody David Price and choreographer Kelli McGurk keep the energy up and make smart use of the Orange venue’s large stage, but can’t make up for the essential shallowness of the storytelling. The youthful cast contains some surprisingly mature talents, especially Flaherty as the arrogant paramour, and Ally Gursky as his gutsy sister. As the only adults, the Priest (Kevin Sigman) and Sister (Pilar Rehert) lend much-needed gravitas and humor, respectively.
Others, unfortunately including Browne’s callow protagonist, are unable to make themselves heard above the synthesized backing soundtrack. The book and lyrics by Jon Hartmere (with a strong assist from Shakespeare, whose Romeo and Juliet is raided for several songs) are reasonably clever, but Damon Intrabartolo’s score sounds like a string of verbose verses in search of a catchy chorus. Ultimately, the predictable plot overstays its welcome by at least 10 minutes. The best part about BARE is that its adolescent anguish over homosexuality is rapidly becoming an archaic artifact, and this show will hopefully soon seem as dated as RENT‘s AIDS angst.
BARE: A POP OPERA
Penguin Point Productions – Winter Park, FL
Price: $10 (+svc. Charge)
Rating: 13+ -