Also see John's review of Evil Dead: The Musical
This rock musical centers on the lives of five Catholic high school seniors struggling with various issues of sexuality and self discovery. Jason and Peter share a romantic relationship they understandably hide from their peers. In Jason's attempt to disguise his true sexual orientation, he engages in sex with fellow classmate Ivy, who mistakes his actions for a declaration of affection. Disastrous effects for all result from an escalating swirl of pretense designed to escape societal judgement. During their school production of Romeo and Juliet their own real life dramas unfold.
This production of bare is musically quite strong. A live, 5-piece orchestra, led by Eric Alsford, provides accompaniment that is balanced and clean. The ensemble sound is great. The opening group number and songs like the comedic "Birthday Bitch" and the moving "One Voice" prove they can really sing. The set works well for the space, and lighting and sound are smoothly executed. There seems to be a lack of real direction in the staging, however, and an embarrassing number of the scenes between two people are done down center, standing in full profile.
Marissa Rosen turns in a delightful performance as Jason's overweight sister Nadia. She is always present as an actress, and fills every moment she has. She has an expressive face, a strong voice and good comedic timing. Her song "Plain Jane Fat Ass" is one of the best numbers in the show. Melanie Leibner has a lovely voice, and plays the "bad girl" Ivy just right, as Ivy is not so bad that the audience should ever not empathize with her. She sings "All Grown Up" with well acted layers of emotion. The part of Peter's mother, Claire, is a tad bland, but actress Sharon Peoples makes the song "Warning" the character defining piece it is meant to be. Nadeen Holloway is at first a bit stilted as Sister Chantelledelivering her lines at people rather than to them. Holloway's second act song "God Don't Make No Trash" is sassy and fabulous, however, as she sings to Peter of accepting his homosexuality. Again, one of best songs in the show.
Christopher McCabe sings beautifully, and seems to have a connection to the role of Peter that brings it to life. He is unfortunately hindered by a disconcerting performance by producer/director Andy Fiacco as boyfriend Jason. The handsome Fiacco seems right for the role at first glance, and has a pleasant though small voice. He repeatedly shifts his weight back and forth aimlessly to the point of distraction. At times he sways (out of time to the music) like someone performing on a cruise ship in turbulent waters. He also has a glassy-eyed look on his face that doesn't match what he is saying and doing in the show. As it stands, bare has some very nice performances, but if McCabe as Peter were partnered with an equally equipped Jason, the production might soar.
bare will be appearing through September 18, 2010, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Performances are usually Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 4:30 pm. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera., Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau. For information on any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org.