Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Monday, 13 June 2011 22:44

School daze

Written by Bob Wilcox
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

The Details

newlinetheatre.com/Jill Ritter Lindberg
newlinetheatre.com/Jill Ritter Lindberg

Bare makes me feel old. Young people seem to find the musical moving and exciting. Even some people approaching my state of decrepitude have said good things about it, comparing it to Spring Awakening.

But as I watched the opening scene, I thought, oh my, here we go again. Gay boys suffering through a Catholic high school, torn apart by guilt and desire. One of them – Mike Dowdy, at last getting the leading role he deserves in this New Line Theatre production – may agonize, but he has no doubts that he is gay. The other – Jacob Golliher, as handsome as his popular character should be, a fine actor, a little limited as a vocalist – isn't ready to stick to boys. He succumbs readily to the advances of the prettiest girl, another deserved leading role, this one for Terrie Carolan.

 

 

After a couple of close encounters between the two of them, I thought, OK, we have the gay adolescent angst, surely the book writers, Jon Hartmere Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo, who also wrote lyrics and music, will spare us that other cliché.

 

 

Nope. They didn't. She was.

 

 

Now, nothing is inherently wrong with retelling old stories or using old narrative devices. The most genuinely moving moment in Grease is Rizzo's song when she thinks she's pregnant. Teen pregnancy may be an overused story, but Rizzo makes it hers. I never got the sense that the young people in Bare were having experiences that were new and fresh because they were theirs. The show doesn't risk taking us some place we haven't been before.

 

 

I don't think the fault is the production's. Fine performances fill the large cast. Especially good are Charlotte Byrd as the handsome boy's chubby sister, defending herself with her intelligence and wit; Jonathan Foster as the would-be rival for the pretty girl who actually eavesdrops on a conversation between the two boys and later drops the bomb – another cliché that I thought we'd left behind with 19th century melodrama; Nikki Glenn as smart and sympathetic Sister Chantelle and no mean singer (notice that the sister is the one who really deals with students' problems, not the priest, who avoids them); and Alison Helmer as the mother of one of the boys – and who gets some lovely outfits from costume designer Thom Crain.

 

 

Scott Miller, the production's director, says that he has “been continually blown away by the sophistication, craft, and complexity of the bare score.” I certainly yield to Miller in his superior knowledge of music and of this score in particular. But to me, on only one hearing, it sounded, apart from a few lovely passages, very much like a number of other rock musicals.

 

 

Miller as director has some smart ideas for using Todd Schaefer's minimal set, a chapel's raised altar table and some wooden frames, with lighting by Kenneth Zinkl and sound by Sarah Wilson. Justin Smolik leads the band from a piano that is sometimes a little too loud for the singers, who must also contend with a slightly distorting audio system. Perhaps had I understood more of the words, I would have liked the show better – and joined the majority.

Additional Info

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Search Parties

Tue September 9

KDHX Recommends

September
Saturday
20

The Thin Dimes at Harvest Sessions 2014

The Thin Dimes at Harvest Sessions 2014 Harvest Sessions welcomes the old-time country blues of the Thin Dimes for this weekend's concert in the park. This free Saturday morning concert series takes place at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, and runs May through...


September
Saturday
20

Tower of Song: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and 80th Birthday Party

Tower of Song: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and 80th Birthday Party Leonard Cohen started out as a poet, and poetry -- ecstatic, spiritual, erotic and political -- suffuses all of his work. When he launched a career as a songwriter and singer in the '60s, only Bob Dylan could match his visionary...


September
Saturday
20

Lee Fields and The Expressions

KDHX welcomes Lee Fields and The Expressions to 2720 Cherokee on Saturday, September 20 at 8pm.   Tickets on sale now at www.ticketweb.com.


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Upcoming Events HAPPENING

Online Users

0 users and 10109 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook