Final Weekend of bare: A Pop Opera at Western Reserve

posted Jul 27, 2018, 12:46 PM by kevin kelly   [ updated Aug 2, 2018, 6:19 AM by Eric Fancher ]

Final Weekend of bare: A Pop Opera at Western Reserve

Community Theatre

Review by Kevin Kelly

A pulsating, electric contemporary rock musical, bare follows a group of students at a Catholic boarding school as they grapple with issues of sexuality, identity, and the future. Peter (Nick Sobotka) and Jason (Nicholas Urbanic) have fallen in love with each other, but Jason — a popular athlete — fears losing his status if he is discovered to be gay. Unpopular Nadia, Jason’s sister (Korinne Courtwright), is contemptuous of Ivy (Laney Davis), a beautiful girl with a questionable reputation. As the group attempts to put up a production of Romeo and Juliet, tensions flare, self-doubt simmers, and God’s path seems more difficult to find than ever. bare rings with the sounds of youthful repression and revolt. With a unique sung-through pop score, heart-pounding lyrics, and a cast of bright young characters, bare is a provocative, fresh, and utterly honest look at the dangers of baring your soul, and the consequences of continuing to hide.

This is a strong relevant story to tell, especially in the environment we live in. It was a strong choice for Western Reserve Playhouse, and one that reflects a theatre that is working to expand its base, and present material that falls out of the mainstream, but is critical to address. Directing this project is Brian Westerley, who did a wonderful job of casting for this auspicious tale. Everyone seems perfectly fit into the story line, which heightens the credibility of the show. 

Urbanic gives Jason the appropriate mixture of a conflicted personae. Jock strutting when he can, but always letting a layer of vulnerability exist, which fuels a tortured soul of compliance. Sobotka crushes the role of Peter, by giving a full emotional throttle performance. Every emotion played on the sleeve, and powerful and soulful vocals embellish the story. His journey is heartbreaking for all of us that just want to love against all odds. Davis is giving off Rita Heyworth vibes, and does a beautiful job of a strong and sexual being, who is conflicted by coming to grips with the clues that eventually are gut wrenching. Her voice assuages her pain nicely.  Courtwright kicks ass and takes no names at Nadia. She is the complete bomb in this show. A fireball of intention, focus, comedic flair, and a voice that commands attention. Complete standout. Speaking of standouts, Dayshawnda Ash gives some Sister Act realness to Sr. Chantelle. Or, as I told her "Go Chantelle it on the Mountain!" She was well worth the comedic moments, and going to church vocals. Stephanie Malfara gave us a riveting and powerful solo as Claire. Truly a beautiful moment of cathartic splendor. David Rusnak turned in a sold performance at the Priest. Adding the essential element of religious doctrine, and doing it with brutal honesty and vocal strength.

Dominic Sonby gives Matt great character. He really carves out a rounded performance, that is definitely a highlight. His scenes are very focused, and interesting. Daniel Hunsicker as Lucas handles the drug dealing capabilities well. Not over doing the bad ass personae, and keeping it real. He also handles the drug rap song like a champ. The rest of the cast is strongly on point. Kayla Lehman, Khylee Kridler, Olivya De Luca, Brooke Lytton, Austin "I got laid" Hopson, and Ben Arrington. I list these names, not as a group listing of the cast, but truly because each one of them adds to the story. Each one creating a solid character interpretation of how they are in this complicated emotional story. Many shows are a success based on the company of actors as a whole. So their work is greatly acknowledged.

Director Westerley brought together a great cast and production. Music Direction by Dave Stebbins is listed, however, the sound track was used for the show. But the vocals were dead on, so bravo to Stebbins for teaching the music initially. Stage Manager Jeff Bixby called a great show. Chorographer Kristy Kruz did an outstanding job. Every number was spot on and entertaining with very creative movement. Set Design by Westerley worked great. Simple but very effective. Scott Zolkowski did a great job with costuming. Light Designer Austin Hopson was on point. Sound Design by Brianna Laybourn had its troubles. This is one area that the theatre as a whole needs to focus in and work on a resolution. Balance problems, mic problems, are getting in the way of storytelling. Once addressed, every musical will excel to another level without that distraction.

Try to catch the final weekend. These actors are working hard.

Cleveland Stage Alliance
Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Final Weekend
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays


(330) 620-7314

Western Reserve Playhouse
3326 Everett Rd
Richfield, OH 44286