Tonight my daughters and I went to see Act Up Theatre’s presentation of BARE: A Pop Opera at The Stage in Island Park. The musical addresses the challenges and importance in living one’s own truth through a group of seniors at a Catholic high school. BARE deals with acceptance of self and others from an individual, relationship, societal, and faith perspective. It provides deft commentaries on body image, gender role expectations, struggles of LGBT youth, suicide, religious hypocrisy, love, and the importance of acceptance. The language can be strong at times and the humor bawdy, but it is a performance I would encourage parents to take their teenage kids to see. In the characters are pieces of all of us and their efforts to embrace and live their own truths should remind us all to live and let live. I think that is an important message for teenagers.
The humor woven throughout the performance – particularly the pieces featuring Ansley Cameron playing Sister Chantelle and the Virgin Mary – help to carry the audience through some difficult truths. I must say that I thought Ansley’s performance was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! But make no mistake, the entire cast deserved the standing ovation they received based on their ability to deliver a thought-provoking and multi-layered performance that left many an audience member wiping away tears.
The musical has a series of individual break out numbers that allow the audience insight into each character’s truth and struggles. I found the mother’s song (beautifully performed by Angela Schulz) particularly moving even though I was frustrated with the feelings she was sharing. It was haunting to hear her voice her struggle to accept her son’s identity.
BARE runs through August 10th – if you have not seen it yet, get there (get tickets here). I guarantee you – it will linger in your mind. Even more importantly, let it linger in your heart.
Day one thousand four hundred and ninety of the new forty – obla di obla da