Review: Bare: A Pop Opera
I recently discovered Bare: A Pop Opera on YouTube, and since a new version of it (named Bare: The Musical) has come to off-Broadway, I thought it would be nice to write a review of the original. Since its opening, Bare: A Pop Opera has been renamed Bare, but I used the original title for this article to differentiate it from the newer one.
I watched the All Alike production of Bare on YouTube and it was fantastic. The show opens with a Catholic school assembly. Peter is dosing off and he has a day-terror (or a daymare) that everyone has found out that he’s gay and they were all disappointed. This scene is extremely overdramatic to show how much he fears people finding out (Epiphany). Later, Peter talks to his long-term secret boyfriend, Jason, who is very much the golden boy. He’s the most popular in their school, he’s good at his lessons and athletics and he’s also closeted. Peter convinces him to audition for the school’s production of Romeo & Juliet (You & I). Peter then thinks to himself that despite his fears, he’s tired of lying and we find out that he wants to come out on his own (Role Of A Lifetime).
At the auditions for Romeo & Juliet, held by Sister Chantelle, everyone is practising and performing audition pieces. Jason turns up later, script in hand, and tries out. Matt, who knows Romeo’s lines by heart, challenges Jason for the part and somehow Jason comes out top. This shows how Matt (who is in love with Ivy) always comes second best under Jason (Audition).
Jason is talking to his sister Nadia, who is tired of being judged by her appearance (Plain Jane Fat Ass). Although the song has strong and confident words, you can tell Nadia only acts the way she does because deep down she feels insecure. The twins get a birthday package from their father. Nadia receives earrings; Jason receives an acceptance from Notre Dame, a local college.
The show is focused on one group of friends (that’s Peter, Jason, Nadia, Ivy, Matt and Lucas). They decide to steal the school’s van and go to a rave. Lucas produces drugs he says will enhance their experience (Wonderland). Nadia decides she’d rather stay at home (A Quiet Night At Home). At the rave, Peter tries to kiss Jason, but he brings them outside. Peter jumps to the (probably correct) conclusion that Jason only wanted to go outside so no one could see them kiss. Peter tells Jason how he feels about coming out, but Jason wants to maintain his reputation as golden boy (Best Kept Secret).
The music of Bare is very catchy, but not in an upbeat way. The tunes will stay in your head days after hearing them. Although it is a pop opera, the music is more indie and acoustic, but with a lot of piano and drums. In addition, Wedding Bells has a churchy feel to it and Pilgrim’s Hands and the songs at the end of the show have a flute because they are practising/performing their production of Romeo & Juliet. As Bare is a sung-through musical, you can listen to the soundtrack and still hear the whole story. I got the soundtrack after watching it and it was wonderful because the quality is much better and although watching it helps you visualise the show, listening to it alone allows for no distractions. That means you can really listen to the words, which adds almost a whole other layer to the story.
I like the fact that the characters perform Romeo & Juliet, because the opera itself is a distorted variation of Romeo & Juliet for a lot of reasons: one of them being the fact that it revolves around two star-crossed lovers. The endings of both are tragic as well.
The show is not one that ends well. Despite a lot of the little dialogue, which is funny, the story itself is very sad. You can tell from the start that it won’t end well. The show deals with religion, sexuality, sex, drugs, pregnancy and death – if any of those offend you, I wouldn’t recommend watching Bare. Please also note that there's quite a bit of strong language in Bare. Otherwise, I think it would be great for you to watch it. The songs are great; the performances vary (but the actors of the All Alike are incredible for an amateur production).
All Alike have a website for Bare: http://bare.zachrosing.com/show.php, all credits for the show are on there. I hope you enjoy the musical as much as I did!