Bare: A Pop Opera, 4 Stars

Bare: A Pop Opera
The Vaults
21st June to 4th August, 2019

“A pulsating, electric contemporary rock/pop musical, Bare follows a group of students at a Catholic boarding school as they grapple with issues of sexuality, identity, and the future.

As the group attempts to put on a musical production of Romeo and Juliet, tensions flare, self-doubt simmers, and God’s path seems more difficult to find than ever.

With a unique sung-through score, heart-pounding lyrics, and a cast of bright & diverse characters, Bare is a provocative, fresh, and utterly honest look at the dangers of baring your soul, and the consequences of continuing to hide who you truly are.”

Review by Richard Lambert, 4 Stars

Full of teenage angst and prejudice, BARE tackles the bullying and in particular the homophobia that’s endemic within a Catholic Boarding School. It’s a simple book of a love triangle with a lot of heart, some great songs, punchy numbers and oodles of feel-good factor.

The cast perform some wonderful harmonies at the start, and the final number will absolutely tug at the heart strings!

With this being an opera there is little dialogue and it’s mainly sung-through. Just as well there are some stand-out cast in there with Darragh Cowley, Georgia Lovatt, Jo Napthine and in particular Stacy Francis giving it large and raising the roof!

The design by Libby Watson is striking yet simple. Some church buttresses along the back wall, plain school lockers on wheels, a couple of beds, lecturn, table, chair and a large tree. All of which are superbly lit by the ingenious and talented Andrew Ellis who never fails to deliver a range of tableaux matched into the mood of the scene, highlighting the set and cast appropriately. The back wall mural – paintings of madonna-esque faces – just a beautiful setting with church-like ambience setting the mood in the show preset.

But, there are 2 major problems in the production. The stage is tall, shallow and wide, with an additional front short runway. There is an additional acting area balcony. The seats are very close to the high stage edge. So the action is high and to the side of you. You’re constantly looking over your shoulder or high up to see the action. Any head movements of over 30 deg are always going to be uncomfortable and this is a 2 hour and 45 min show! Audience in traverse would have been more comfortable, or how about a stage in the shape of a cross with audience surrounding on all sides?

The other major problem is the Sound. It’s a loud band and the minimal speakers are aimed at the high back wall instead of the audience. Compound this with a Sound Operator located on the other side of the audience and the far side from the band and you end up hearing all the band but limited lyrics. That’s a problem for a sung-though opera! Stacy Francis can sing out and does so brilliantly! Some of the solo and duet numbers land well as the band is quieter for the ballads. The bigger numbers sound muffled. All nicely pitched, but inaudible.

In the Directing Chair is Julie Atherton giving us fast, slick, well choreographed Set Changes. I’m not a fan of fumblings in bed with the cast keeping their shoes on, I find it distracting, but hey, sometimes the details can slip and we have to use suspension of belief.

A really enjoyable evening at a marvellous pop opera!

Photo Credit: Tom Grace

Director Julie Atherton
Producer SR Productions
Musical Director Alasdair Brown
Choreographer Stuart Rogers
Designer Libby Watson
Lighting Designer Andrew Ellis
Sound Designer Ross Portway

Sister Chantelle Stacy Francis
Claire Jo Napthine
Priest Mark Jardine
Jason Darragh Cowley
Peter Daniel Mack Shand
Ivy Lizzie Emery
Nadia Georgie Lovatt
Matt Tom Hier
Lucas Bradley Connor
Tanya Athena Collins
Kyra Georgia Bradshaw
Diane Liv Alexander
Rory Beccy Lane
Zack Tom Scanlon
Alan Alexander Moneypenny
Swing Hollie Ann Lowe

Twitter: @SRProductions49, #BareLDN, @thevaultsuk

Further Information

Performance Dates Friday 21st June – Sunday 4th August 2019
Tuesdays – Saturdays, 7.30pm
Saturdays, 2.30pm
Sundays, 1pm and 6pm
Location The Vaults, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN

Running Time 2 hours 45 minutes including interval.

Box Office Tickets are available priced from £19.50 during previews, and
from £24.50 during the rest of the run, from:

How to get there
The Vaults are located underneath Waterloo station (on the Northern, Bakerloo and Jubilee lines). Leave Waterloo Station via Exit 1. Turn right onto Station Road Approach and keep on the right-hand side of the road. Walk to the bottom of the road and down the first set of stairs you come to then turn right at the bottom of the stairs. The entrance is 10 meters down the graffiti tunnel on the right-hand side.