bare: Houston Press Review

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Damon Intrabartolo (music and book) and Jon Hartmere (book and lyrics) call their vigorous and entertaining R-rated musical set at a co-ed Catholic boarding school a “pop opera,” and that’s all right by us, even though it’s a long way from having an opera’s thematic unity. Yes, everything’s sung, so technically it’s an opera, but more times than not when a song ends so does the scene, giving this impressive work a jerky rhythm when it should smoothly soar instead. Thanks to the two talented young creators — and Country Playhouse’s talented, agile cast — bare flies high nonetheless.
It’s easy to see why this youth-oriented musical has had such a cult following ever since its L.A. premiere in 2000. Heavily influenced by Jonathan Larson’s grunge romantic Rent, Intrabartolo and Hartmere have provocatively lowered the age of their social misfits. These are the ultimate tweeners, kids teetering before adulthood with a glaze of drugs, sex and attitude. Awash in gay sex, teen pregnancy, body consciousness and social pressure, mixed with hits of ecstasy and hash brownies, tumbled together with Catholic guilt and parental ineptitude, the headiness is aptly set to Hartmere’s vernacular, spiky poetry and Intrabartolo’s inventive, swirling pop score. It’s mighty potent. The large cast, dewy-eyed in age only, is equally stirring, with standouts Jacob Wills, Nathan McManus, Cindy Godell, Jeremy Brown, Jessica Janes and Scott Lupton leading the way. Director O’Dell Hutchison lovingly focuses the youngsters, giving them room to breathe, while music director Luke Kirkwood, with the most minimal of orchestras, keeps the whole thing fresh, snapping and in-your-face. Through June 21. — DLG (David L. Groover)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_gallery type=”image_grid” interval=”3″ images=”319,318,317,316,315,314,313″ onclick=”link_image” custom_links_target=”_self”][/vc_column][/vc_row]