Stage Art thrive on putting on musical theatre productions that are rarely seen. For their second outing of 2018, the company has brought to the stage Damon Intrabartolo and Jon Hartmere's Bare, a 2000 off-Broadway show focusing on the lives of a group of students at a Catholic boarding school on the cusp of adulthood. While there are a few themes that are tackled, the story predominantly follows two boys who struggle to come to terms with their burgeoning relationship and the implications this could have on their futures.
Finn Alexander delivers a charismatic and winning performance as the most popular boy in school, Jason. While outwardly he is confident and self-assured, Alexander expresses the doubts, anxieties and fears that reside inside Jason through consistent and effective body language and facial expressions. Adam Di Martino as Peter finds the emotional depth of his character and the audience is able to sympathise with him in his longing for a happy ending. The chemistry between Alexander and Di Martino is undeniable as they explore the excitement and fear of new love.
HaNy Lee brings some great comedic moments as Diane, particularly during her understudy rehearsals in the school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Tom New makes the relatively minor role of Lucas into something bigger and more memorable with his exuberant take on the character. Vanessa Menjivar is bold and full of spirit as Sister Chantelle, stealing pretty much every scene she is in and bringing much delight to the audience with each utterance and eye roll she casts.
Maddy Seach and Jason Bovaird's lighting design exposes the isolation and vulnerability that these students are experiencing as the harsh realities of the real world await them. Dean Drieberg's direction further pushes this feeling, often having actors at a distance from each other despite being in the same room. This in turn makes the scenes where they are physically closer feel far more intimate and personal. Drieberg's simple set design includes a giant crucifix that hangs from the ceiling, looming over the teenagers signifying how harmful dogmatic religion can be to people, particularly with vulnerable people.
Fresh from his stunning performance in Stage Art's recent production of Falsettos, Musical Director Caleb Garfinkel continues to impress as he leads the four musicians of Bare through the 30 plus demanding musical numbers.
While there are no real surprises in the direction the story takes and it being somewhat dated, the performances from this highly energised cast make it extremely easy for the audience to become invested in. Bare is a testament to Stage Art's ability in bringing together immense talent both on and off stage, and creating a production worthy of staging.
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 15 April | 7:30pm Wed- Sat, Sat 7 April 1:30pm, Mon 9 April 7:30pm and Sun 15 April 12pm
Tickets: A Reserve: $69 Full / $59 Concession | B Reserve $59 Full / $49 Concession | C Reserve $49
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel
Photo Credit: Belinda Strodder