Bare: Review Roundup

The cast of Bare

The Off-Broadway premiere of Bare, a revised version of the show that debuted at L.A.’s Hudson Theatre in 2000 and was first seen Off-Off-Broadway at New York’s American Theatre of Actors in 2004, has opened to mostly negative reviews. The creative team includes Jon Hartmere, Jr. (book, lyrics), Damon Intrabartolo (music), Stafford Arima (direction), Lynne Shankel (additional music), Travis Wall (choreography), Donyale Werle (sets), Tristan Raines (costumes), Howell Binkley (lights), Keith Caggiano (sound), William Cusick (projections), and Leah J. Loukas (hair, makeup). The cast includes Jason Hite (Jason), Taylor Trensch (Peter), Elizabeth Judd (Ivy), Gerard Canonico (Matt), Barrett Wilbert Weed (Nadia), Jerold E. Solomon (Father Mike), Missi Pyle (Sister Joan), Casey Garvin (Zack), Ariana Groover (Vanessa), Sara Kapner (Madison), Alice Lee (Diane), Justin Gregory Lopez (Beto), Michael Tacconi (Nick), and Alex Wyse (Alan).

Joe Dziemianowicz (Daily News): Regrettably, Bare sags from the same overly familiar and narrow focus that worked against it in a developmental version I’d seen in 2004. It seems more than ever stuck in a time warp. The kids on stage may carry iPhones, but the psychology seems rooted in another decade, definitely one pre-Glee. … Despite predictable turns and characters … there are funny lines. Some of the songs are surprisingly big-hearted and affecting. Movement by Travis Wall adds flow and energy. Director Stafford Arima … has assembled a talented cast that is uniformly strong. Barrett Wilbert Weed … stands out with her honeyed vocals. And Missi Pyle, brings down the house as the Virgin Mary in a glittery nightclub act. Pyle steals the show. If that’s a sin, amen to that.

Zachary Stewart (Theater Mania): The teenage pain and alienation packed into this two-and-a-half-hour musical is true to form and, for the most part, feels authentic. … The issues addressed in Bare are very real and handled adroitly by an expert cast. … For all of the teen drama, the show is surprisingly funny in the first act. … By the middle of the second act, however, the angst, intensified by the dramaturgical need to tie up emotional loose ends, becomes a bit draining. … Be forewarned: this musical is beautifully designed, well sung and acted, but it’s also a major downer. The whole affair left me deeply impressed by the actors’ endurance and incredibly grateful that I am no longer sixteen.

Tanner Stransky (Entertainment Weekly): Though Bare has been reworked since its first performance as a sung-through pop-rock opera in 2000, the new production at Off Broadway’s New World Stages feels decidedly old. … In a post-Glee, post-“‘It Gets Better’” world, Bare feels somewhat regressive. … There are good things about the show, though. The ever-sharp Missi Pyle plays a smart, understanding nun and delivers handily during a hilarious scene where she also channels the Virgin Mary as a nightclub performer. Elizabeth Judd and Barrett Wilbert Weed are standouts in a show in which the boys get the more central roles. And while simplistic at times, the pop-rock score by Damon Intrabartolo (with additional songs by Lynne Shankel and lyricist Jon Hartmere) is mostly inspired. B-

Matt Windman (A.M. New York): Bare has finally opened Off-Broadway – ironically at the very same theater it was supposed to originally play. But this is not the same show. Now titled just Bare, it has been extensively revised and updated under the sanitizing direction of Stafford Arima. … Much of Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo’s original score has been replaced with inferior new material by Hartmere and Lynne Shankel. … With the exception of Alex Wyse, the young cast is mostly devoid of personality. … At least Missi Pyle and Jerold E. Solomon display depth as the resident priest and nun. It turns out that clips of the original production can easily be found on YouTube. I highly recommend checking those out over this dreadful new staging.

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