Bare, The Pop Rock Musical. It’s the Feast of Epiphany, and the students of St Cecilia’s Catholic Boarding school are a buzz with the news that Romeo and Juliet will be the school’s latest production. School will finish soon, colleges are calling and a new chapter of life must begin. But not everything is as it seems. Main protagonists, Jason (Alex Jeans) and Peter (Aaron Robuck), two of the graduating students, are dealing with their own demons. Leaving their ‘School home,’ stepping out into the world and figuring out their relationship are just a few of the choices that must be made. For the young lovers, nothing is easy.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking a show like this, if not monitored, could evolve into a very preachy version of an after school special. The proponents are there. The obligatory star crossed lovers, heavy lashings of religion, forbidden desire and teen angst. You could be fearful that the whole show could escalate toward cliched characterisations that border on caricature.
And yet, I was pleasantly surprised. I wont lie. There are struggles in this show. A certain skill is always required when portraying teenagers LGBTQI or otherwise. Kids are kids. Struggles are real. and everyones journey is different. It’s risky. Youthful depictions need to be energised, vibrant and yet full of well hidden, suppressed insecurity. If this isn’t contained, lyrics and lines meant to crystallise a moment can appear forced, playing surface emotions and lacking conviction rather than being rich and compelling.
There are several winning notes in this show. Stand out performances easily include the gentle, charming Peter Simmonds played beautifully by Aaron Roebuck and new, up and comer Natalie Abbott, who plays Alex’s sister, Nadia. Both performers have excellent comic timing and great charisma in the space. Abbott’s rendition of A Quiet Night At Home was particularly moving and powerful as was Robuck’s Once Upon A Time.
Gavin Leahy and Penny Larkins also delivered exceptional performances. Their depictions of Claire Simmonds and The Priest were truthful without overplaying the didactic component of their presence. Caroline Oayda also kept us giggling with some wonderful comic moments as the ever thoughtful, always longing, I’ll-get-there-someday-I’m -ready-for-the-magic-to-happen, Diane Lee.
Musical direction was tight with Mathew Reid at the helm and Hannah Barn’s efforts were admirable as the Director / Choreographer of the production, with added choreographic work from Alexandra Lewtas.
There’s only a few days left to catch this show. I wouldn’t miss out if I were you.
Lee Anderson – Theatre Now & Talking Arts
By Book by Jon Hartmere, Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo, lyrics by Hartmere and music by Intrabartolo
30 Nov – 17 Dec 2016
Venue: Depot Theatre
Theatre Company: Supply Evolution
in association with The Depot Theatre