Theater Preview: Bare: A Pop Opera
A new form of opera is hitting the stage this week in Richmond. Bare: A Pop Opera opening Wednesday, 7/17, at the Richmond Triangle Players Playhouse chronicling the lives of two young boys in a Catholic boarding school. The opera is not a traditional opera but more-so a rock musical, and it’s sure to have a flare that only RTP can provide.
Bare tells the story of several high school teenagers as they traverse the ups and downs of life in school. The main focus however, is on two boys who carry on a secret relationship with each other. The students are constantly struggling with who they are, their sexuality and who they think they should be. Each of the characters look for answers from each other, their family and their faith.
“A lot that happens in Romeo and Juliet happens in the play,” say Philip Crosby Managing Director for Richmond Triangle Players. “It’s not a traditional opera because it is sung through. It is almost all music.”
Bare, based on a book by by Jon Hartmere, Jr and Damon Intrabartolo, was first rewritten for the stage in 2000 at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles. The lyrics were later written by Hartmere with the music by Intrabartolo.
It later went into production around the country and around the world, from New York in 2004, Texas in 2008, to Canada in 2009 and even Sydney and the Philippines through 2012.
Bare was first done in Richmond as a concert reading and had great success. Crosby immediately knew that people would want to see the full production, who said it was a great fit for Richmond for many other reasons. “The obvious [present] issues of gay marriage and the struggle with sexuality are blatant,” a statement on the behind the scenes blog for Bare reads. “But what also rises to the surface are teenage bullying and suicide.” however the message isn’t just about relating to the struggles of being gay. To Crosby it is also about “Being gay, coming out, and being true to who you are….being free to love who you want to love. I hope the play gets out the message how important tolerance is.”
With a five week run of the show starting tomorrow night, there are plenty of chances to catch Bare, but Crosby says one viewing might not be enough to fully take in the show’s message. “We do a lot of shows [at the Richmond Triangle Players] that address sexuality, gender identity and faith,” states Crosby. “It is an important discussion about how you align who you are with what the church may be teaching you, what your parents may be teaching you or what society may say you need to be. I think it is a discussion that keeps going on in Richmond and it is important to have plays that talk about that.”
Bare will be a great learning experience and great fun for those who are part of the audience. This amount of fun will be a reflection of how great it was for the cast and crew. Crosby mentions how the cast members were eager to play a role in this production. “The cast ranges in age; anywhere from 16/17 to their mid twenties. It is all new talent, young talent and they are blowing us away every single night in rehearsal.” (It has been advised to bring a tissue or handkerchief as some of the emotional moments might hit the audience pretty hard.)
Richmond Triangle Players has kept the production fairly close to the original. With a special low priced preview this Wednesday at 8 pm, Bare officially opens Thursday, July 18th; running through August 17th, Thursday- Saturday evenings at 8 pm. Matinees will be held at 4 pm July 28th, August 4th and 11th. All seats will be $18 with a special student rate for those in high school and at university. “It is cheaper than a movie,” says Crosby. “And much more fun.”
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