BWW Reviews: BARE: A POP OPERA, Now Playing at the Goppert Theatre
Home Grown Theatre Company and XS Lighting have created one of the first "Green Shows" using entirely LED lighting in Kansas City. Bare: A Pop Opera runs through Wednesday August 13 at the Goppert Theatre on the Avila University campus. Home Grown Theatre Company is a non-profit company run solely by students.
Bare: A Pop Opera is with a book by Jon Hartmere Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo, with music by Intrabartolo and lyrics by Hartmere. Hersh Ellis the founder of Home Grown Theatre directs the Kansas City production. The story is the struggle of two gay high school students between their academic, private, and home lives. Set in a Catholic boarding school the musical attempts to take on issues of identity, sexuality, and religion.
Several of the 35 plus songs are catchy and filled with emotional content, while others are unmemorable, making the production seem unnecessarily long and tedious. Two of the best songs from the show was "Plane Jane Fat Ass" wonderfully sung by Shelby Keller playing Nadia. The second sung by Lucas, played by Kristoph Gies, "Wonderland," was marvelously performed and very entertaining.
Singing as a group the cast was pleasant and the voices blended well. Unfortunately, many of the individual vocals strained the ears and more than once caused me to wince as notes slammed through the air. Some of the songs were so bad that if the actors performing the songs want to stay in the theater they might look into becoming a mime.
Dashawn Young stars as Peter, one of the two boys struggling with their sexuality. Peter is eager to tell his mother of his relationship with Jason, but continues to remain silent at Jason's insistence. When singing with the group Young's voice blended into the songs, but as a soloist or when singing with Jason, it lacked the power and strength to compete. Many of the lyrics he sings are lost as the fantastic band overpowered his performance and vocals.
Frankie Jay Baker stars as Jason, the second half of the struggle. He wants their relationship to remain private, so he does not have to confront his choice of sexual orientation. In Act 1, his voice is strong, powerful, and gave authority to his character. At the beginning of Act 2, his vocals were effected by a nasal sound that had eluded the earlier performance.
Hunter Sprong conducts the band with Preston Hereford, Logan Haynes, Grant Dickerson, and Adam Keda. In Keller's rendition of "A Quiet Night at Home," Keda gives a magnificent solo performance on cello that was one of the few highlights of the evening.
Bare: A Pop Opera continues at the Goppert Theatre through tonight. Purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets. Photo of Frankie Jay Baker as Jason and Madison Plouvier as Ivy by Carrie Hudson are courtesy of Home Grown Theatre.