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Bare: a Pop Opera

Musical in 2 acts. Book by John Hartmere Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo. Music by Damon Intrabartolo; Lyrics by John Hartmere Jr.

American Theatre of Actors, Off Broadway - 19 April, 2004. Closed 27 May, 2004


Act I

It is the Feast of the Epiphany, and mass is being held at St. Cecilia’s boarding school to welcome students back from Christmas break. Peter, an altar boy, falls asleep during the priest's homily and drifts into a nightmare in which he is outed by statues of saints, his mother, and his classmates. On his way to class after Mass, Peter finds his roommate and clandestine boyfriend, Jason, who tries to calm Peter's frustration about their relationship. Peter asks Jason to audition for the Senior Play, a production of Romeo and Juliet, so they can spend more time together, but Jason refuses. The bell rings without Peter getting his desired kiss, and as he watches Jason walk away, Peter reflects on their relationship.

At auditions for Romeo and Juliet, Sister Chantelle, the school's no-nonsense drama teacher, is underwhelmed by the acting candidates – until Jason surprises Peter by showing up. He and Matt, another altar boy, battle for the role. Sister Chantelle awards the role to Jason, and Ivy, the school's popular is his Juliet. Peter is Mercutio, Matt is Tybalt, and Jason’s acerbic twin sister, Nadia, is the nurse.

Jason stays to console his sister, who wanted the role of Juliet . She opens a letter she's received from their father, revealing that Jason has been accepted to Notre Dame, his first choice of schools.

At study hall, Matt tries to plan a small surprise party for Ivy's birthday while Lucas, St. Cecilia's resident party boy, tries to recruit everyone to go to a rave. In his best white boy rap, he introduces the students to two drugs: K and GHB.

The night of the rave, Nadia decides not to go, after seeing the skimpy attire on Ivy and the attention it's generating from Matt. When everyone leaves without her, she takes out her 'cello and spends another quiet night by herself.

At the rave, Peter dances closer to Jason while Ivy dances closer to Matt. As Peter goes in for a public kiss, Jason pulls him outside. They argue over the nature of their relationship, Peter wanting to be more open, Jason telling him that the rave is different from school. Peter finally gets his kiss; it's not public, but it is, unknown to them, witnessed by Matt.

The following morning, the groggy students gather for their least favourite St. Cecilia's activity, confession. Peter comes close to telling the priest how he feels, and Matt comes even closes to telling him what he saw. At first rehearsal that afternoon, Sister Chantelle realis es she has her work cut out for her. During a break, Nadia makes a crack at Ivy's promiscuity, and Ivy reflects on the image the students have of her.

The intimate party Matt was planning to impress Ivy gets commandeered by Nadia, who turns it into a full-scale bash. Peter stuffs his face with brownies, not realising they're pot brownies, and begins flirting openly with Jason. Ivy, drunk, also flirts openly with Jason, and when he chooses Ivy over Peter to protect his image, Peter storms off. Ivy dismisses Matt's advances, concentrating her energy on landing Jason. She asks him for a kiss for her birthday, and he reluctantly agrees.

Both Matt and Peter retreat to the solace of the church's chapel, where they ask God for answers. There, Matt takes the opportunity to ask about the "nature" of his relationship with Jason. Peter, still high from the brownies, confesses all to Matt, desperate to talk about his confusion. When Matt abruptly leaves, Peter realises what he has done, but is stopped when he has a second "vision" in the church: Mother Mary appears in the guise of Sister Chantelle. She and her two angel sidekicks tell Peter it's time to tell his mother his secret .

At rehearsal the following day, Jason and Matt's fight scene turns real, and they have to be separated. Peter tells Jason about the vision he had, and that he wants Jason to go home with him over Spring Break so he can tell his mother about them. Jason's had enough, and breaks up with Peter.

As students pack to go home for Spring Break, Nadia sings a self-penned ode to spring. Peter leaves wordlessly with his mother, as Ivy shows up at Jason's dorm to apologise for throwing herself at him at her party. When Jason gives Ivy the impression that he enjoyed kissing her, Ivy goes in for more, and Jason gives in. As Peter misses Jason, Matt pines for Ivy, and Nadia begs to be noticed, Jason has sex with Ivy in his dorm room, hoping that this is the right thing to do.

Act II

Act Two opens in the church, where the scene is set for an elaborate gay wedding. Peter is dreaming again, this time about a civil ceremony with Jason. After Mass, class ranks are posted; Jason has once again bested Matt, walking away with the valedictorian spot.

Ivy wonders why Jason hasn't called her since that night, telling him that she has, for the first time, fallen in love. Jason, realising that the feelings Ivy is describing are exactly what he feels for Peter, breaks things off, devastating her.

Peter phones his mother finally to tell her his secret, but she won't let him say the words, continually changing the subject. She hangs up on him, but she knows what he wanted to tell her. Alone, she wonders how to deal with what, to her, is a confusing and earth-shattering revelation.

With two weeks to go before the show, Ivy misses yet another rehearsal, claiming illness. Sister Chantelle asks the understudy to read with Jason, but she can't remember her lines. Peter steps in, and for a moment, all is perfect, as he dances with Jason. Ivy finally shows up, breaking the spell. Sister Chantelle cancels rehearsal, and tells the students they are on their own for rehearsal – she's through. Ivy begs Jason to talk to her, and he agrees to meet her before the student-led rehearsal that evening. As students move to exit, Sister Chantelle tells Peter to stay. She knows what's bothering him – and tells him that he's exactly as God intended him to be.

When Nadia returns to the dorm room, she confronts Ivy about missing rehearsal, assuming she's moping about her brother breaking up with her. They argue, and Ivy reveals the true reason she's been missing rehearsal: she's pregnant .

Ivy leaves and finds Jason practising his valedictory address in the auditorium, and there she tells him her news. As Jason reels from the revelation, he wonders whether this is exactly what he wanted all along? He tells her that maybe he does, in fact, love her, but at that moment, Matt steps out of the wings and reveals Jason and Peter's relationship. Peter shows up, then Nadia – and then the entire cast is revealed, having heard everything.

With nowhere to turn, Jason goes to the priest to ask the question that has tormented him for years – does God still love him? When Jason presses the priest for an answer, the priest ultimately condemns him. Jason returns to his dorm room and watches Peter sleeping peacefully.

As the students lead vocal warm-ups for the show, Lucas passes out their after-party drug orders. As the show is about to begin, Jason pulls Peter aside and makes a plea: run away with him. Peter tells Jason he's done running. Jason nods, knowing it's finished; just before going on, Jason takes a lethal dose of GHB. Right as everyone moves into places, Jason pulls Peter aside to tell him he loves him; they share a final kiss, and the play begins.

As the play unfolds, Jason becomes increasingly disoriented. During the Queen Mab speech, he loses his place completely and begins to hallucinate; this segues into the masked ball scene, where Jason has increasing difficulty keeping time as the players switch partners, and he collapses, reaching for Peter.

Peter visits the confessional, confronting the priest about his final visit with Jason. Struggling to come to terms with his role in Jason's death, he asks Peter for forgiveness, which Peter grants.

At graduation, Peter, Matt, Ivy and Nadia try to process their grief over Jason's death, trying to understand it and wondering whether they could have prevented it. As the senior class of St. Cecilia's graduates, the chorus of students crescendos and they move forward into a world that offers more questions than answers.


Musical Numbers

  1. Epiphany
  2. You and I
  3. Role of a Lifetime
  4. Auditions
  5. Love
  6. Dad
  7. Wonderland
  8. A Quiet Night at Home
  9. Best Kept Secret
  10. Confession
  11. Portrait of a Girl
  12. Birthday Bitch!
  13. One Kiss
  14. Are You There?
  15. 911! Emergency!
  16. Reputation Stain'd
  17. Ever After
  18. Spring
  19. One
  20. Wedding Bells
  21. In the Hallway
  22. Touch My Soul
  23. See Me
  24. Warning
  25. Pilgrim's Hands
  26. God Don't Make No Trash
  27. All Grown Up
  28. Promise
  29. Cross
  30. Two Households
  31. Queen Mab
  32. Bare
  33. A Glooming Peach
  34. Absolution
  35. No Voice