Sex and drugs, and the looming threat of eternal damnation—all set to music—pretty much sums up “Bare,” the rock musical that explores the complicated issues of identity, peer pressure, and hormonal teen angst. The story revolves around Catholic boarding school classmates Jason (Jason Hite) and Peter (Taylor Trensch), who fall into a passionate, sexual infatuation with each other.
After a mostly naked secret weekend, Peter can’t believe his luck at finding himself in bed with popular Jason, wearing only his new lover’s varsity jacket. Jason is initially as thrilled as Peter, until he returns to the context of his social life, which consists of his girl-crazy, meat-headed basketball teammates who spend their time away from sports plotting ways to get laid. Not, in other words, a gay-friendly environment.
Jason is eventually mortified at realizing the social death that being in an openly gay relationship would entail, and to make matters even more confusing, acknowledges to himself how pure and complete he feels when he’s with Peter.
Peter breaks the audience’s heart as a chronically unpopular nerd who is so used to being an outcast that it seems to suit him. He pushes Jason to make their relationship public, not understanding what it might be like for a jock like Jason to come out of the closet.
“Bare,” with its cast of teens who reserve their feelings until they can belt them out in song, is an easy comparison to “Glee,” and the former comes dangerously close, at times, to losing the audience to trivial high school drama: most people I know over 30 cringe at the mere thought of yet another “coming of age” story. But just when it comes a little too close to tanking, it digs just a little deeper than “Glee” and sets itself right.
The scenery is so simple and yet so mesmerizing. The black backdrop covered with high school yearbook photos evokes a sense of premature nostalgia, like when someone knows the present they are living in is fleeting. It’s a reminder that the way we are remembered after high school is a result of how much of ourselves we chose to reveal.
Despite the heavy subject matter, the hip and modern choreography and music give the play more moments of lightness than dark. The supporting cast doesn’t hurt either, including Diane (Alice Lee), a clueless but loving classmate who helps Peter understand that he is, indeed, in love with Jason, and Alan (Alex Wyse), who never lets us forget that he’s the only Jew in a Catholic school.
Hite nails the character of indifferent jock, a kid so afraid of being gay that he forces himself into a hetero relationship with school slut Ivy (Elizabeth Judd). His tough, defensive shell builds up through almost the entire play until finally, in a stunning emotional breakdown, he realizes he’ll have to step into his own shoes and live his life as he is, which includes being truthful with himself, his buddies, and even his faggot-hating father.
The other brilliant moment of the play involves Peter who, while experiencing a pot-cookie induced hallucination communicates with the Virgin Mary herself. Missi Pyle’s rendition of Mary is a hilarious, rock and roll talk show host who refers to herself as the “universe’s 911.” When Peter finally reins in her wise-cracking banter, he asks, “If two people love each other and aren’t hurting anyone with their relationship, is there anything wrong with it?”
One would think, with the real life strides that have been made in the area of gay rights in the very recent past, it almost seems like this question is irrelevant. Do people still care about who other people love, after all?
Peter and Jason’s journey to discover the answer reveals that it’s still a very real and relevant question. In fact, even Mary, the mother of all mothers, couldn’t answer it.
Directed by Stafford Arima
Music by Damon Intrabartolo with additional music by Lynne Shankel
Book and lyrics by Jon Hartmere
Choreographed by Travis Wall
STARRING: Jason Hite, Taylor Trensch and Elizabeth Judd, WITH: Gerard Canonico, Jerold E. Solomon, Barrett Wilbert Weed and Missi Pyle
Ticket prices range from $25 (front row, night of performance, with student ID) to $126.50 (premium). Regular price tickets are $89.75.
For more information, please visit
Bare the Musical
Now-Jan. 27th: Monday, Wednesday – Friday @ 8pm, Saturday @ 2:30pm & 8pm, Sunday @ 3pm & 7:30pm
Beginning Jan. 28th: Monday, Wednesday – Friday @ 8pm, Saturday @ 2:30pm & 8pm, Sunday @ 2pm & 7:30pm
Tickets: Starting at $25
New World Stages
340 W 50th St (between 8th & 9th Ave)
Photo Credit: broadwayworld.com