Northey makes his directorial debut with an electric production of
“Bare: a Pop Opera” at Soulstice Theatre in St. Francis.
“Bare” is a relatively new piece, and this is its premiere in
Wisconsin. It tackles a topic that heartens some and threatens
others, dealing, as it does, with those who struggle to be
accepted for their sexual identity when it doesn’t represent
story introduces us to a senior class in a Catholic boarding high
school. Drugs, alcohol
and sex are grappled with amid the somewhat repressive backdrop of
Catholic teachings, represented by the characters of one nun and
one priest. Ironically,
the nun is portrayed as being more understanding and less rigid
than the priest. This
is refreshing since most nuns are portrayed as mean or silly,
which is a disservice to the reality of their diversity.
Mara McGhee was a hoot in her role as Sister Chantelle.
strong delivery of “God Don’t Make No Trash” is a comfort to
Peter, the main character who is wrestling with his homosexual
identity and all the repercussions he might have to face with his
religion, his parents and his peers. Doug Clemons always delivers
with an exceptional performance.
partner Jason, very movingly portrayed by Shane Skinner, is even
more conflicted than Peter. He
tries to deny his nature, so he succumbs to the alluring Ivy, a
beautiful girl who is very attracted to him.
Meanwhile this alliance makes Matt very jealous because Ivy
has not been open to his advances.
Broken hearts are pretty par for the course in the teenage
years, and we certainly see a lot of anguished souls here.
Matt (James Carrigan) and Peter capture their mutual pain
in their searing duet, “Are You There?” as they wonder if God
is even aware of what they’re going through.
very moving moment is certainly the conversation between Peter and
his mother when he tries to tell her that he is gay.
Her evasiveness belies the fact that she is torn between
denying or accepting a reality, between her love for her son and
her shame and fear of his revelation.
Laura Monagle’s wrenching song,
“Warning,” as she looks back at the signs that she
didn’t want to see is very poignantly delivered.
Monagle never disappoints.
character who grabs our complete attention is Nadia, Peter’s
twin sister. She has
weight and jealousy issues, which she addresses in her strongly
executed “Plain Jane Fat Ass” and “Spring.” Haley San
Filippo is one of the shining stars in a very talented cast.
Sudbrink is the musical director and the conductor of the
six-piece orchestra. He,
as always, does a good job. The two-tiered set designed by
Benjamin Gray provides easy changes from venue to venue, and the
choreography by Chelsea Fredrickson adds to the energy of the
reality of various sexual orientations continues to be a troubling
societal issue, though progress toward greater understanding,
tolerance and acceptance is certainly apparent in the past two
decades. May enlightenment continue, so that bullying and
ostracism will eventually disappear from our midst.
runs through March 1 at the Soulstice Theatre at 3770 S.
Pennsylvania in St. Francis. Call
414-481-2800 or visit their website at www.soulsticetheatre.org
for times, tickets and directions.
It’s a very worthwhile way to spend a couple hours.