Sunday, January 6, 2013

REVIEW: BARE at New World Stages

Yesterday I saw BARE at New World Stages Off-Broadway. As someone who was relatively familiar with the old, pop-opera version of the show, I really enjoyed this new, updated version. Now BARE is a book musical that features some of the strongest songs from the original, as well as some great new ones.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the set, a very geometric set with a lot of crosses, setting up the religious themes, as well as a set decorated in Instagram pictures. I thought the overall design and functionality of the set was really great and worked well to make the different locations throughout the show, but thought that the Instagram-clad decoration was a little campy for my taste.

Now to the performance itself. Overall, I thought that the direction was really good, and Stafford Arima really drew out some great non-scripted moments. My main problem was that the choreography was a little strange. It was very modern, something I'd expect to see at a dance show, but really took you out of the world of the show because it was so unnatural.

At the performance I saw, Taylor Trensch, who plays Peter, was out and his understudy Alex Wyse was on. All I can say is thank God, because Wyse was phenomenal and had a great voice. You couldn't even tell he didn't perform as Peter every night. The other male lead, Jason, the closeted jock, was performed extremely authentically by Jason Hite. He was one of, if not the strongest vocalist and actor in the cast. He was one of the few that I didn't feel over-stereotyped their character. Barrett Wilbert Weed as the outcast Nadia was also extremely strong and had the best voice in the cast of any of the female actresses.

The rest of the cast was good, not outstanding, but definitely not bad. I think they all looked young, which really helped set the scene that they are in high school and didn't seem to far removed so that they couldn't act their characters authentically.

I really hope that this show stays strong, gets a cast recording, and that the word gets out there. It's a very strong piece of theatre that deserves to be seen.

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