When I first heard about Bare coming back off-Broadway, I was extremely excited. Then I heard they were making changes to the show, and as more changes were revealed, I became more nervous.
I thought for sure I would hate this new version of one of my favorite shows. After all, they had taken out things I felt were essential to the show—Nadia wasn’t fat anymore, and Claire was removed completely. How could it possibly be any good?
Regardless of those feelings, I decided to go see it on the 14th. Then they announced that they were closing the show on the 3rd, so I got a round trip bus ticket to New York. I was able to get a rush ticket for closing night, and a secondhand ticket for the matinee.As soon as the show started, I knew this was going to be something special.
The opening measures of “A Million Miles from Heaven” moved me to tears.
During “You and I,” I couldn’t stop giggling, because the way Taylor Trensch played Peter was extremely endearing.
I loved the new version of “Portrait of a Girl.”
The locker room scene and “Easy Girls” were interesting—in the original productions, we never really saw Jason facing pressure from his peers to talk about girls, watch porn, etc. It really did a great job of showing the outer forces that cause Jason’s inner struggles.
I heard one or two days before I saw the show that Lucas had been cut and Nadia had become the drug dealer (and was again really nervous about this). “Drive You Out of Your Mind” was one of the best changes made to the music (it replaces “Wonderland”).
“Best Kept Secret” was as beautiful as it ever has been, and I’m really glad that they kept it for this version.
“You Don’t Know” is the best new song in the show. Nadia and Ivy both reflect on their places in life during this song, and the music and lyrics were both amazing.
The only way I can describe “Best Friend” is to say that it was one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen on a stage. That whole number, the audience was laughing like crazy. I am really glad that they added some strong comic relief to the show, because I felt like it made the show more perfect than it was previously. As an audience member, you were not just taken to the depths of depression, but you were also allowed to laugh till your gut hurt before the heavy stuff hit.
"Hail Mary" was a really great number. Since Claire was taken out of the show, this is the song that takes the place of "911! Emergency!" and includes audience involvement. It was another really fun song.
"I Meant to Tell You," with the melody of "Ever After," but new lyrics, is a great change. Peter is telling Jason that he loves him as Jason tries to break up with him. It gave me chills and made my eyes water a bit.
“Role of a Lifetime,” now sung by Jason, was incredible. I really REALLY loved the fact that we were able to see Jason’s internal conflict in the song. Even better to me was the fact that the lyrics didn’t change too much—he’s asking the same questions that Peter asks in other versions.
"One" has always been one of my favorite numbers in the show. The harmonies at the end of the song always give me chills, and this time was no exception—in fact, it was even more brilliant because instead of having 5 people singing at the end, the whole ensemble was singing.
The lyrical changes and musical arrangement of “Confession” also magnified the emotions that the song is trying to portray. During the angry parts, lines like “what kind of mind control is this” made it more angry, and during the funny confessions, well, they were funnier.
"What If I Told" was one of the more emotional (pre-death) songs. The part that really broke me down is at the end of the song. The ensemble sings "be a man" to Jason over and over (not as their actual characters—more like a dreamscape kind of thing), and Jason eventually starts singing it with them.
"Kiss Your Broken Heart" (also known as "Touch My Soul" to the pop opera folks) is one of the songs whose melody didn’t really change, but the lyrics were completely reworked. Again, the lyrics gave even more of a revelation of what Ivy is feeling about Jason.
"Are You There." Where do I start with this song? It’s an introspective split scene, removing the dialogue (some of which never made sense to me) and keeping the beautiful harmonies.
"Pilgrim’s Hands" was basically kept the same. The only difference is that the very beginning of the song is spoken.
"You’re Not Alone" replaces "God Don’t Make No Trash," and was incredibly emotionally involving. Any person with half a heart is moved with this song, and if you’re emotional, you will cry without a doubt. It’s always wonderful that the Sister is the person who sings this song. I love the fact that in every version of it, they address the fact that god loves everyone—no matter what or who you are.
"All Grown Up" was also changed, mainly because of changes in the book, so that Ivy is confessing that some rumors are true. I love the changes because in previous versions, we can believe that Ivy is a "slut," but in this version, we see her as just a teenage girl who makes mistakes, and is "fragile as a paper cup."
"Once Upon a Time" was a bit more uptempo and angsty, and this made the song better because you can feel through the music the terrible urgency with which Jason yearns for validation.
"Bare," because of book changes, has some really great lyric changes."How do I forget the boy I kissed that day," Peter and Jason both ask. The most moving line in this song is "It hurts to look back so I have to move on." Also, during the "I’ve never been this bare" part, it starts out really soft and builds until Jason finally says "I love you."
In “Absolution,” Peter confronts Father Mike with his own words, which I thought was great because the Father was able to see how his own worldview needed to change, and how his unwillingness to address controversial topics—in spite of encouraging people to come to him with them—played a huge part in Jason’s death.
"No Voice" is as depressing as ever. If I were to go into it, I would just ramble and ramble for ages. Also, most of the changes happened because of changes to the book. I will say this, though, each solo—Nadia’s, Ivy’s, Matt’s, and Peter’s, were more heart-wrenching than in any other version of the show, and when the ensemble transitions from "no voice" to "one voice," they start with one person and more join in slowly until the end—it was incredible.
Overall, the music was more than I expected.
(the physical 3-disc set)
Price: 29.95 Euro (or $40.16) plus shipping and handling.
Nominations for most hilarious song in the history of Bare:
1. Just a Girl
2. Best Friend
3. Wedding Bells
4. Birthday Bitch
5. Hail Mary
Let us know what you think!