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Theater Review: 'Bare' -- 1 star

Taylor Trensch, left, and Jason Hite in "Bare"

Taylor Trensch, left, and Jason Hite in "Bare" Credit: Taylor Trensch, left, and Jason Hite in "Bare"

1 star

Back in 2004, "Bare: A Pop Opera," a show about two gay teens struggling to come to terms with their sexuality at a Catholic boarding school, was supposed to receive a commercial Off-Broadway run following its Off-Off-Broadway premiere.

When that didn't pan out, "Bare" went on to be performed on college campuses and produced a cast album.

I saw the original production of "Bare," which featured an unforgettable performance by Michael Arden, several times. Although still in a raw state, it was an extremely heartfelt and moving work with excellent songs.

Eight years later, "Bare" has finally opened Off-Broadway - ironically at the very same theater it was supposed to originally play. But this is not the same show.

Now titled just "Bare," it has been extensively revised and updated under the sanitizing direction of Stafford Arima, whose revised production of the infamous flop musical "Carrie" received largely negative reviews in March.

Much of Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo's original score has been replaced with inferior new material by Hartmere and Lynne Shankel. The few remaining original songs have been altered beyond recognition.

Arima's production looks just like his staging of "Carrie," which itself was a poor attempt to imitate the youthful, freestyle spirit of "Spring Awakening."
As it happens, "Bare" has much in common with "Spring Awakening," at least on the surface, in that both deal with sex, pregnancy and death, feature teens in prep school jackets and include two adult cast members.

With the exception of Alex Wyse, the young cast is mostly devoid of personality. In the lead role of Peter, Taylor Trensch can't even handle the show's vocal demands. At least Missi Pyle and Jerold E. Solomon display depth as the resident priest and nun.

It turns out that clips of the original production can easily be found on YouTube. I highly recommend checking those out over this dreadful new staging.

If you go: "Bare" plays an open run at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St., 212-239-6200,

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