In the eyes of many, Pope Francis has attempted to move his church beyond a historic preoccupation with human sexuality. But in the world of "bare: A Pop Opera," which was originally produced in Los Angeles in 2000 and takes place in a Catholic boarding school named St. Cecilia's, seniors Peter and Jason share a love that did not yet dare to speak its name.

In the eyes of many, Pope Francis has attempted to move his church beyond a historic preoccupation with human sexuality. But in the world of “bare: A Pop Opera,” which was originally produced in Los Angeles in 2000 and takes place in a Catholic boarding school named St. Cecilia’s, seniors Peter and Jason share a love that did not yet dare to speak its name.

Evolution Theatre Company’s understated-but-effective production of the sung-through musical puts us back into that time when high school kids trying to reconcile their faith with their identity might find neither guidance nor comfort from parents or priests.

Interrelationships among the students mimic those of soap as much as grand opera. Jason (John Schlabach), the school valedictorian, and his roommate Peter (Andy Simmons) carry on a forbidden affair. Ivy (Cassie Kahr) pines for Jason. Matt (David J. Glover) lusts after Ivy. Jason’s overweight and acerbic sister Nadia (Jenna Lee Shively) sings that she’s “hungry for love,” but might settle for a corner of the spotlight that usually shines on her superstar brother.

When Peter tries to ask the priest (Todd Holland) for advice, all he is told is to “keep your mind on other matters.” Peter’s mother Claire (Jesika Lehner) knows her son’s secret but finds it too painful to say out loud. St. Cecilia’s drama teacher, Sister Chantelle (Akillah Clark), seems the only adult willing to see him as he is or to offer support.

Playwrights Jon Hartmere (the lyricist) and Damon Intrabartolo (the composer) give the characters a full measure of their own issues to deal with. Interweaving the action with the school’s auditions and rehearsals for “Romeo and Juliet” could have been a bit much, but instead helps to frame things. Director Patrick McGregor keeps Evolution’s “bare” focused and raw.

Photo by Jerrie Shafer