Theatre Matters

Contemplations on the dramatic arts from a national perspective

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Steven Oxman has contributed to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, American Theatre, Stagebill, and, most frequently, Variety, for which he has written over 300 television and theatre reviews.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"Bare" Has Trouble Exposing Itself

A bit of surprising news, and something of a disturbing trend. There seems to be real trouble with funding of some commercial shows: even when the money seems to be there, it isn't. Last week, there was an announcement that a group of Canadian investors in shows like "Brooklyn" couldn't come up with promised cash. Now, there's the apparently out-of-the-blue news of the cancellation of the off-Broadway show "Bare: A Pop Opera."

This is a show that premiered in L.A. and became a big small-theatre hit there. George Wolfe expressed interest in the show for the Public, but that didn't work out, and the show played at a tiny off-off-Broadway house and sold well. Dodger Theatricals picked it up for their new mid-town, mid-size space.

The show actually has quite a bit in common with "Brooklyn." It's another highly sentimental, sung-though show, but with a passionate score (and an amusingly informational subtitle). To be honest, I thought it was rather absurdly over-rated in Los Angeles, in part because of its tragic treatment of its gay subject matter -- it's a love story between two teenage boys at a Catholic school. As with "Brooklyn," though, my own sap-o-meter doesn't reflect general audience tastes, and it was clear the show really struck a chord with a young crowd. I also got to know the composer, Damon Intrabartolo, a little. I was clear about my reservations regarding the show (I told him that if I reviewed it, I would have lead with, "What hath Rent wrought?"), but also expressed honestly that the show demonstrated genuine talent. As with "Brooklyn," I was pulling for the show even if I thought it was going to face some serious obstacles.

Good luck to it. It's a real shame it's not getting a chance to be judged on its merits.