Review: Bare, A Pop Opera, NUEMusicTheatre Company, York St John University

YOU have to admire the spirit of NUEMusicTheatre Company, York’s newest theatre company, and especially its co-founder Mikhail Lim, who has thrown a goodly sum from his student loan at funding this debut show.

We keep hearing how times are hard for the arts – Out Of Joint, featured elsewhere on this page, will produce one rather than three touring shows per year after suffering funding cuts of £100,000, for example – but there is more and more theatre being staged in York.

This is in part a result of the burgeoning facilities at York’s senior schools and York College, the University of York and York St John, the latter playing host to NUEMusicTheatre’s first show.

You may recall York Stage Musicals – another of York’s progressive companies – premiering the left-field American musical Spring Awakening in November 2010. Bare, A Pop Opera, by Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo, is another such show about youthful yearning and learning and sexual spring time, moving its coming-of-age story onwards from Frank Wedekind’s Germany of 1891 to a modern-day American Catholic boarding school.

It’s a love story, a gay love story, the love of Mikhail Lim’s Peter (who doesn’t hide it and wants to tell his mother) and Aran MacRae’s Jason (who is struggling to come to terms with it, hiding behind a fling with prettiest girl in class, Lottie Henshall’s Ivy).

They happen to be playing Romeo and Juliet in the school production, and the stories overlap most affectingly, Shakespeare’s lines being used to high emotional impact in Intrabartolo’s songs.

Spring Awakening was an upfront kind of musical and this is even more so, carrying an adult content warning that is relished by Robyn Grant’s Nadia, Jason’s provocative, outsider sister with the best lines and best songs in the show. Grant is only 17 but stage school and the professional stage surely awaits her prodigious talent. MacRae impresses too and Lim’s performance is heartfelt, touched you sense by personal experience.

Praise too for Lim and Matthew Hill’s thrusting direction, the singing performances of John Whitney, Sam Crane and Michelle Wen Lee and the lively contribution of Barbara Chan’s band.

Bare, A Pop Opera, NUEMusicTheatre Company, Quad South Hall, York St John University, today at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Online box office: nuemusictheatre.moonfruit.com

Comments (3)

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9:59pm Sat 3 Mar 12

GJTYO23 says...

My partner and I went to see this play last night and were absolutely blown away by it. The talent on show was of a very standard and the singing and dancing was outstanding. In particular Aran MacRae and Robyn Grant are stars of the future, or at least should be!! The rest of the cast really did put their heart and soul into this excellent performance. Well done all....
My partner and I went to see this play last night and were absolutely blown away by it. The talent on show was of a very standard and the singing and dancing was outstanding. In particular Aran MacRae and Robyn Grant are stars of the future, or at least should be!! The rest of the cast really did put their heart and soul into this excellent performance. Well done all.... GJTYO23
  • Score: 0

11:59am Sun 4 Mar 12

S0T0E7 says...

I thought the show was amazing a lot of people whom deserved a mention where left out of Charles Hutchinson's review as per usual vital space was wasted on mentioning other shows WHY!.. Lottie Henshall’s Ivy was outstanding and and should have been mention all the cast in the show worked so hard every part in the show was a character and was acted out to perfection not just an ensemble songs I do agree with Charles on Robyn, Aran and Mikhail..but maybe next time Charles review the show all these young people need the encouragement ...
I thought the show was amazing a lot of people whom deserved a mention where left out of Charles Hutchinson's review as per usual vital space was wasted on mentioning other shows WHY!.. Lottie Henshall’s Ivy was outstanding and and should have been mention all the cast in the show worked so hard every part in the show was a character and was acted out to perfection not just an ensemble songs I do agree with Charles on Robyn, Aran and Mikhail..but maybe next time Charles review the show all these young people need the encouragement ... S0T0E7
  • Score: 0

9:46pm Wed 7 Mar 12

mdevereaux888 says...

The roles were perfectly cast, Mikhail Lim's Peter was cute and endearing, with a soulful voice than can take him to West End or Broadway. Lottie Henshall was absolutely beautiful and talented giving justice to the role of being the most popular girl in school. John Whitney and the rest of the cast have to be mentioned with their amazing talent that is worthy of future professional performances. I just love the way the show was produced. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing!
The roles were perfectly cast, Mikhail Lim's Peter was cute and endearing, with a soulful voice than can take him to West End or Broadway. Lottie Henshall was absolutely beautiful and talented giving justice to the role of being the most popular girl in school. John Whitney and the rest of the cast have to be mentioned with their amazing talent that is worthy of future professional performances. I just love the way the show was produced. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! mdevereaux888
  • Score: 0

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