Review: Bare: A Pop Opera

If you're a fan of pop-rock musicals like Heathers and RENT, I am about to change your life right now. One of my all-time favorite musicals is an off-Broadway show, Bare: a pop opera. 

bare a pop opera review
It all started for me with a song in a highschool music class in late 2005. We were supposed to listen to a song about two high school guys trying to keep their sexuality a secret in a Catholic boarding school and give our thoughts on the two parts. My teacher said it was from an off-broadway show that he was lucky enough to get a sampler from. I really liked the song, but, at the time, I didn't ask for the name of the show. 

As I got more and more obsessed with Broadway, it would often get to me. What was the name of that show? What was it? As soon as I heard of Bare three years later from a Broadway fan board and realized that Best Kept Secret was that track, I knew I had found it. 

Before splurging for the cast recording (at that time, close to $40), I checked it out on Youtube (mostly full playlist of Bare here and free on Amazon Prime). I had it in the background as I was studying for exams. The next day, I literally caught myself humming the melody from "You and I" and dying to watch a production. This show is that good. If you give it a chance, it will hook you. (If you need more enticement, check out Role of a Lifetime and One.

If you like rock/pop musicals like RENT or Heathers, first see if there's any way to check out the show in person. There's been a ton of local productions of this show in the past 2-3 years. If not, check out the studio recording album (James Snyder/Matt Doyle) with Wikipedia's plot summary next to you.

Yes, I am being 100% serious that you'll need to have a plot guide as you listen! The biggest flaw of this show is that SO MUCH is crammed into it. You've got visions of Mary, a production of Romeo and Juliet, and a ton of main characters. To really condense it: Jason, the popular guy, falls in love with Jason, a theater geek. While the school rehearses for Romeo and Juliet, each character deals with how others view them. 

Overall, the original show is one of the most intense pieces of theater I have experienced. I can't recommend it enough. My only other advice would be to try to see the original production. I saw "bare the musical" (not the pop opera) at New World Stages in late 2012, and was super disappointed. Nadia's whole character is completely changed, the structure was awkward, and nearly all of the lyric changes were for the worse. 

So, I hope you can check it out! I heard about Bare through word of mouth, and if I convert one person, this will have been worth it!