Review: Bare, A Pop Opera

Bare is a production of the Ateneo Blue Repertory. That is perhaps the most significant piece of information needed to fully appreciate the magnitude of impact that this play has on a range of issues including, but not limited to, homosexuality, gay relationships and the conflicting stand of society on the subject.

Unlike the recently staged Next Fall, that remained mostly neutral on the morality debate of same sex relationships/union, this college production from a Jesuit-run University, did not play it safe. It presented a reality that is familiar to most of us, a reality often ignored and left undiscussed. It left no room for gray areas.   It boldly showed how people often cling to their faith in times of uncertainty but this faith can be misdirected to a mere messenger that could very well get the message wrong.  

Much of the credit goes to the material itself. Bare: A Pop Opera received the 2001 Ovation Award, Backstage Garland Award, LA Drama Critics Circle and LA Weekly Awards for Best Original Score and Best Musical. Damon Intrabartolo that wrote the book and music has done film orchestration in movies like Dreamgirls, X-Men 2, Superman Returns, The Usual Suspects and a lot more. Josh Hartmere co-author of the book and lyricist has written screenplays for Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street. 

Strong performances by Bibo Reyes (Peter), Maronne Cruz (Ivy), Cassie Manalastas (Nadia) and Franco Chan (Matt) also gave the play authenticity and heart. Reyes who is reprising the role commanded the most effective portrayal, often carrying scenes with stage partner, Jaime Barcelon. Barcelon, on the other hand,  attacked the role of the sought after and confused jock with earnest enthusiasm.

Theater veterans Rem Zamora and Jenny Jamora played out significant supporting roles. Jamora played  Peter's mother who mouthed the very words that some members of the supposedly educated society say in dealing with a homosexual family member. 

Zamora played the roles of Sister Chantelle, the priest that runs the school and the Virgin Mary. He owned the theater in every single scene he was at and dished out some of the most significant lines. "They're known to misquote their verse, preaching hate, but I'm saying 'wait!' Where did Jesus mention that," she said referring to the bigotry of the church towards homosexuality. 

To say that Bare is an important production is an understatement. It is a timely, relevant and accurate reflection of the world we live in. It echoes of views you can hear in a Sunday homily and it brings out in the open the very topics that are usually avoided in society. I reckon that it will make some of the audiences very uncomfortable but at the same time, it can give a person who might be going through a moral dilemma a sense of clarity and self-worth. 

The remaining play dates for Bare are set on March 7-10 with gala shows on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and matinee shows on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m at TEATRINO located at The Promenade, Greenhills, San Juan.

For tickets, inquiries and other information, please contact Chiz Jardin at 09165787618 or through email at nicojardin12@yahoo.com.

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