Opera is all about the pouring of deep-felt emotion into song, and "Bare," a 2004 off-Broadway musical, is subtitled "A Pop Opera." No doubt, that's partly because of the torrent of emotions unleashed by the hormone-charged teenage protagonists.
"Bare" is set at a co-ed Catholic boarding school, where gay roommates Peter and Jason struggle with their sexual relationship, which Jason wants to keep secret.
At the Fringe, "Bare" is handsome to look at and as polished as one would expect from veteran producing company Penguin Point Productions.
But to fit the show into the festival's 90-minute timeslot, a good chunk of material has been cut — and this is greatly to the show's detriment. It's harder to connect with characters when we don't get as much opportunity to look into their souls. And without the second-act barn burner "God Don't Make No Trash," the latter half of the play nearly drowns in its own unrelenting melodrama.
The cast members, although attractive and good singers, seem to be holding back — the antithesis of the hypersensitive teen years. As directed by Cody David Price, "Bare" releases not so much a raging torrent of angst as a steady stream. There's little variation in the emotional level of the singing, whether characters are flirting or arguing.
Only Ally Gursky, as a sarcastic young woman who hides her insecurities behind humor creates a truly vivid persona.
This "Bare" is a slick production, but it never reaches the heartfelt heights it might.
• Details: Orange venue, 90 minutes, 13+, $10.
May 23, 8:15 p.m.
May 24, 11 p.m.
May 25, 9:15 p.m.