Review: The Topeka Civic Theater presents ‘Bare’

Grace Foiles

The Topeka Civic Theater production of “Bare: The Pop Opera”, a rarely performed musical, will open June 12.

Recently, I attended a technical rehearsal and I enjoyed the performance immensely.

This show centers on a group of high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school who are each struggling with their own journey of self-discovery.

The show’s opening number titled “Epiphany”, introduced the story of one of the main characters, Peter. In this dreamlike sequence, both students and family berate Peter for his involvement in a same-sex love affair. The song is funny in a brutal way, with lyrics like “Claire you wanted grandchildren, instead you’re going to get ambiguous Christmas cards from South Beach”, that caught my attention right out of the gate.

Before attending, I had only briefly read about this show so I didn’t know what to expect. So others who plan to attend aren’t caught off guard, the show is definitely rated M for mature, because the themes and the language are highly “inappropriate”. However, for me personally, the fact that these Catholic boarding school attendees curse like drunken sailors and sin like it’s going out of style make them all the more endearing.

“Bare” can be a difficult show to attend and to perform due to the seriousness of the subject matter. The story focuses on issues like sexual identity, drug use, teen pregnancy, self-hatred and society’s perception of beauty. The show started out funny but by the end it was heart wrenching. My only real complaint was that the plot felt a little heavy handed and incredibly overdramatic. Yet, the fantastic cast managed to make these high school clichés into relatable and easy-to-empathize-with characters, which easily handled that issue easily.

My favorite part of this production was without a doubt the music. All the performers sang phenomenally and the songs were so catchy. I rarely enjoy all of the songs in a musical, but every song in this production either made me cry or laugh out loud. In fact, as soon as I left the theater I looked up the soundtrack. Some of my personal favorites include “Plain Jane Fat Ass”, “Confession” and “Wonderland”.

As for my final impression, if you want highbrow theatre this probably isn’t your cup of tea, but if you want to watch a funny, heartbreaking, occasionally campy musical with a knockout cast and a phenomenal soundtrack, “Bare: The Pop Opera”, is definitely the show for you.