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In the early 90’s, the now defunct supermarket tabloid Weekly World News, published a story about a creature - half boy half bat - found in a West Virginia cave. That story became the inspiration for Bat Boy: The Musical written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe.  The first production opened in 1997 and the show made its off-Broadway premier in 2001 quickly becoming a cult hit.

 

The show opens as a few residents of Hope Falls happen upon the Bat Boy while spelunking. Surprised by the visitors to his cave, Bat Boy attacks Ruthie and is then captured by her brothers Ron and Rick. They turn him over to the local sheriff, who drops him off at the home of the town veterinarian, Dr. Parker, hoping he will be able to put him down humanely. The vet’s wife and teenage daughter Shelley have different plans however, somewhat to the chagrin of Dr. Parker. They feed him, get to know him and eventually come to care for him, teaching him and helping him grow into a “normal” member of society. The folks of Hope Falls however, are scared of Bat Boy but Mrs. Parker and Shelley work hard to win them over, until things start to fall apart and truths start to be revealed that shed a whole new light on Bat Boy and his family.

 

Falling into the genre of horror/comedy musical, this show is unique from the start. It touches on some heavier themes such as racism, bias, revenge, understanding and forgiveness but with well-timed comedic moments and campy songs it keeps things from getting too dark. The story continues to throw curveballs right up until the end, keeping the audience entertained, surprised and even touched. It challenges the audience to think about their own biases while making light of some very heavy topics with some hilarious moments that have everyone laughing out loud.

 

The performance was polished and well put together under the direction of Scott Weinstein. The cast of 10 actors, representing twenty-two different roles, were spectacular. They shifted from character to character perfectly, often portraying female characters in drag which felt like a perfect fit for this show.  Everyone played a huge role in the show and brought both strong acting, good timing and strong vocal performances together to create an overall excellent show.

 

Staged in The Den Theatre, it made the most of an intimate space. The set was well designed by Jeff Kmiec and Greg Pinsoneault and the set transitions appeared seamless. With some of the seating practically on stage, and set pieces allowing for lots of movement and levels on the stage it created a very unique experience. In some scenes, the entire audience seemed to become part of the show, as the actors broke the 4th wall and interacted directly with them.

 

Bat Boy: The Musical is certainly a one of a kind musical. It may not be for everyone’s taste as it does include some rude humor and pretty twisted storylines but it is a hilarious and excellently executed show so if you are looking for something a bit unique to break up the monotony of cookie cutter musicals, this is it! Get your tickets and check it out before the run ends on July 24th!

 

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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