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Richmond Triangle Players bare: a pop opera

By • Jul 26th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
bare: a pop opera
Richmond Triangle Players: (Info) (Web)
Richmond Triangle Players Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through August 17th
2:20 with intermission
$28-$32
Reviewed July 25th, 2013

Romeo and Juliet is probably the most copied play of all times. There’s even been a classic musical version, West Side Story. So how can anyone make it fresh and new? bare: a pop opera [sic], currently being performed at Richmond Triangle Players, makes it original and timely, with the main characters being teen gay lovers.

With book by Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo, music by Damon Intrabartolo, and lyrics by Jon Hartmere, bare is one part “Glee,” one part Romeo and Juliet and one part A Chorus Line.

Peter (Ian Paige) and Jason (Sam Jones) are seniors at a Catholic boarding school, where Jason has been cast in the Senior production of Romeo and Juliet as Romeo. They must keep their relationship hidden from their classmates, their teachers and even their religious families who would never accept this relationship. (The best kept secret is the best kept secret).

The entire cast of students are fresh-faced, pure voiced and energetically youthful. There are so many beautiful and memorable songs, it is hard to highlight just a few; but that’s my job, so I will!

Paige and Jones have such believable, natural chemistry, that their love songs transcend gender. Paige also has a duet with Matt (Austin Tate) with harmonies so tight and perfect, I would buy it as a single (or whatever we call songs on iTunes these days). Kelsey Cordrey, as Jason’s overweight sister Nadia has a certain Janis Ian/Carole King soulfulness to her voice that makes the anguish of some of her songs even more poignant. Lucian Restivo has one of the funnier moments in the show, performing a rap-like number.

Just like in “Glee,” there are, of course, the adults; The Priest (Craig Smith), and Peter’s mother (Hannah Zold) who want to deny Peter and Jason’s relationship since it is against the teachings of the Catholic Church, and Sister Chantelle (Chloe Williams) the drama teacher, who is the only one who “gets it” and tells Peter she and God have his back, because God don’t make no trash. Williams has some of the play’s best comedic moments both as the acerbic drama teacher and as a vision of the Virgin Mary à la Diana Ross.

The most heart-felt dramatic moments are saved for Jones and Morgan Meadows as Ivy, a girl who believes that Jason is straight and falls in love with him. Meadows tears were so genuine and clearly came straight from her heart.

The live band was flawless. Director/Choreographer Justin Amellio’s staging and dancing was modern, hip and entertaining. Rebecca Brooks’ lighting consistently enhanced the mood, although there were a couple of late light cues and actors standing in the dark, missing their marks. T. Ross Aitken’s minimal multi-level set was functional and utilized the small space well. Alex Valentin’s Catholic school costumes were innovative in their uniformity while still giving each character a personal touch (a sweater, sweatshirt, tie, bow tie, pair of socks, glasses, etc) which helped distinguish among them. One minor pet peeve is that some of the costumes are ready to be pressed and appeared pretty wrinkled by the second week of the run.

This truly great pop opera will make you laugh, make you cry, have you humming and tapping along and leave you wanting more as the performers in bare truly bare their souls in a powerfully heartfelt evening of thought-provoking entertainment.

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by Richmond Triangle Players

The Cast

  • Ivy: Morgan Meadows
  • Jason: Sam Jones
  • Peter: Ian Paige
  • Matt: Austin Tate
  • Nadia: Kelsey Cordrey
  • Lucas: Lucian Restivo
  • Diane: Annie Hulcher
  • Rory: Annella Kaine
  • Kyra: Sasha Wakefield
  • Tanya: Tarnee Kendell Hudson
  • Zack: Mahlon Raoufi
  • Alan: Joe Winters
  • Claire: Hannah Zold
  • Priest: Craig Smith
  • Sister Chantelle: Chloe Williams

The Crew

  • Director/Choreographer: Justin Amellio
  • Musical Director: Kim Fox
  • Assistant Directors: Keith Fitzgerald and Lucian Restivo
  • Stage Manager: Dexter Ramey
  • Set Designer: T. Ross Aitken
  • Lighting Design: Rebecca Brooks
  • Costume Design: Alex Valentin
  • Managing Director: Philip Crosby
  • Artistic Director: John Knapp

The Band

  • Percussion: Steve Raybould
  • Guitar: ConnorThompson
  • Bass: Jonathan Wheelock

Disclaimer: Richmond Triangle Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

This article can be linked to as: http://showbizradio.com/go/9651.

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