Sunday, April 29, 2012

bare: a pop opera

 Stephanie Coatney, Omar Montes, and Natale Pirrotta  in bare:  a pop opera.
This weekend I went to see my former student, Stephanie Coatney, in bare:  a pop opera at the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.  M.A.D. Theatre of Tampa produced the show and it was superbly directed by Jennifer Marshall.  

Set in a Catholic boarding school, the show centers on a group of friends during their senior year.  Altar boy Peter and big man on campus Jason are roommates and are carrying on a closeted romance.  Peter wants to go public with the affair, at least to his mother, whom he loves dearly.  Jason feels that his world would crumble if word of the relationship got out.  Things get more complicated when Ivy, makes a play for Jason.  Her rejected suitor, Matt, discovers Jason and Peter's secret and reveals the truth.    As both Jason and Peter struggle to come to terms with who they are, and who the world thinks they should be, they seek answers from the Church, their friends, and ultimately from within themselves.

It was a moving experience.  I am so proud of Stephanie.  She played Ivy and was amazing. I'm not surprised, though.  Her talent was evident when she was 14-years old.  Aside from her stellar voice, she speaks volumes with her eyes.  It's amazing when someone can play sexy, innocent, and vulnerable so well.  I am so glad that I got to see her in this role and that I was introduced to this amazing musical.

The acting and singing of the entire cast was so honest.  Nothing was overdone or overplayed.  The music was phenomenal, and the story was relevant. The blending when the entire cast sang as a whole was sick.  Other standout performers were Natale Pirrotta  who played Peter and Omar Montes who played Jason.  The latter half of the second act had the majority of the audience in tears, and it was largely due to their performances.  

I cannot believe that this was a community theatre performance.  I've seen some really bad community theatre, and believe me, this was many tiers up from that.  I would say this even if Stephanie were not in the show.  I am truly impressed and look forward to more M.A.D. productions.

The show's music is by Damon Intrabartolo and lyrics are by Jon Hartmere with the book a collaboration of the two.  It ran Off-Broadway in 2004.  If you're familiar with musical theatre, the show had the feel of Spring Awakening and Next to Normal due to its music style and themes.  A professional cast album is available on iTunes in two parts:  act one and act two.

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