'Bare' at RAPA tackles LBGT issues

05:00 AM, Dec 31, 2013

Choreographer Bobby Conte works with the cast of Bare: A Pop Opera, which opens this week at RAPA East End Theatre. (Kimberly Bubello/ / Photo provided by OFC)/


Written By Caurie Putnam

If You Go:
What:
Bare: A Pop Opera
When: 7:30 p.m. January 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 (talk back sessions immediately following the performances on January 4 and 11).
Where: RAPA’s East End Theatre, 727 E. Main Street, Rochester.
Tickets: $15 and available online at www.rapatheatre.org; all area Wegmans; RAPA East End Theatre Box office (585) 325-3366; and at the door one hour before curtain.

Bare: A Pop Opera, a musical focusing on bullying and issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths, opens at RAPA East End Theatre this week.

This is the show’s second time being performed in the Rochester area — a conscious choice by Eric Vaughn Johnson, managing director of OFC Creations, who is producing and directing the current staging at RAPA.

The show changed my life,” says Vaughn Johnson, who was a cast member in Bare when it was produced in 2010 by Fairport Summer Performing Arts. “I knew that when I became managing director of OFC Creations, the story needed to be told again,” he says.

The coming of age story, written by Jon Hartmere Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo, revolves around gay high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school. The musical debuted at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles in 2000.

The show is about acceptance and how accepting one another can change one’s life,” says Vaughn Johnson who is also the business manager of RAPA.

Lauren Bowen of Chili plays the supporting role of Nadia. She was also in the 2010 Fairport production and Summer Performing Arts production of the show and called the desire to be in the show again “magnetic.” “The show stuck with me,” she says. “It wasn’t the ‘biggest’ show I’ve ever done, but it was powerful. I can’t stay away from it.” Bowen’s character struggles with self-esteem issues from being overweight. “Everyone in the show is going through some sort of challenge,” she says.

The show’s vocal director is Judith A. Ranaletta, artistic director of Rochester Association of Performing Arts, where OFC is based. The leads are Esther Winter, owner of Canalside Music Together, as Sister Chantelle; Ann Rhody, a retired Greece music teacher, as Claire; and Scott Shutts, who most recently was in Rochester Children Theatre’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, as the priest. The show is funded through a grant from the LGBT Fund for Greater Rochester.

Following the Saturday performances, the audience is invited to talk-back sessions with the cast, the Rochester Gay Straight Alliance Youth Group, and Rochester MCC Open Arms Church representatives. “The show ends with such a powerful punch, we think a lot of people are going to want to stay to talk,” Vaughn Johnson says.