It’s called “alternative” and that translates to campy and certainly not your grandmother’s musical, but the musicality, fine voices, …
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It’s called “alternative” and that translates to campy and
certainly not your grandmother’s musical, but the musicality, fine
voices, imaginative choreography, and engaging, if wacky, storyline
are part of a carefully-crafted package.
Director Nick Sugar’s attention to production details brings
“Bat Boy: the Musical” to Town Hall’s stage in all it’s edgy
goofiness— yet with tinge of sadness.
The story and book are by Keythe Farley and Brian Fleming, with
music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe— all of whom worked with
tongue firmly in cheek! The idea came from several stories in the
supermarket tabloid, “Weekly World News.” (Think National Enquirer
in our area). A creature that was half-boy/ half bat had been
discovered in a cave in the mountains of rural West Virginia, it
claimed, in a fine example of investigative reporting.
The play was developed by Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang Theatre and
ran off-Broadway, in London’s West End and at the Edinburgh
Festival. It has since been produced across the country, described
by one critic as “Rocky Horror Picture Show meets My Fair
Travel to Hope Falls, W.Va., and
abandon preconceived ideas about how the world works. Sort of… the
parody about community fear and intolerance rings more true than
one might wish.
Music ranges from rock to gospel to country to rap to ballad and
a lively three-piece band is placed high in a large screened cage.
Led by Donna Debreceni, it adds a great deal and the sound is
carefully managed by Jacob Krimbel so that from center seats, at
least, it doesn’t drown out the well-trained voices. An audience
member who sat farther to the side did experience some problems
with hearing clearly. Perhaps a bit more tweaking is in order.
Watch for brief send-ups of some classic musicals.
It’s dark at the rocky entrance to a cave and voices and
flashlights appear, as does a shadowy, darting figure. Lights go up
as local teens capture a frightened creature, bag it and haul it to
Not certain what he’s dealing with, the Sheriff (Brian Murray)
delivers it to the local veterinarian, Dr. Parker, thinking he’ll
put it down.
Bat Boy, ably played by a nimble Mark Lively, squeaks, cowers
and hangs upside down in a large cage in the living room, refusing
offered food. The assumption of euthanasia doesn’t take into
consideration Parker’s wife and feisty teenage daughter Shelley,
who have other ideas. They home school him with BBC tapes, teach
him to dance and generally civilize him, aside from his need for a
diet of blood. (Might he be responsible for a rash of cattle
deaths)? They name the boy with bat-like ears and fangs Edgar.
Musical theater veteran Margie Lamb is the veterinarian’s
warm-hearted wife Meredith, who has her own dark secrets and Ellen
Kaye is a sassy, rebellious teen, Shelley Parker. Daniel Langhoff
is the often-soused, unhappy, sometimes homicidal Dr. Parker, who
strikes a deal with his wife to let Bat Boy live if…
Per the script directions, there are 10 cast members: the five
mentioned who play single parts and another five in a funny
ensemble, which makes lightening changes; Cameron Stevens brings a
strong voice and good comic timing as teenaged Rick Taylor, proper
church lady Lorraine and Mr. Dillon, while Haley Wells plays
brother Ron Taylor as well as clicker-toting town mayor Maggie.
Heather Larson is the unfortunate Ruthie Taylor and Ned, while
Shelley McMillon is Mrs Taylor, Roy, an Institute man and a
knock-out Gospel singing preacher, Rev. Hightower. Keegan Flaugh is
an able late fill-in as Daisy, Bud, Pan, Doctor.
The ending somehow verges on tragic works by the Bard and the
entire production had most folks in a sometimes-rowdy audience
Nice to see good material that’s not so familiar, but for those
who prefer the tried and true, note that Town Hall’s final season
production will be “Oklahoma.” The announced 2009-2010 season will
include a comedic play and five musicals: “Grease,” “Oliver!”
“Sylvia,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Altar Boyz” and “The Secret Garden.”
Reserve your favorite seat now.
”Bat Boy: the Musical” runs through May 10 at Town Hall Arts
Center, 2450 W. Main St. in Downtown Littleton. Not recommended for
under 17. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2
p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $21 to $36, with final hour rush tickets for
students and actors if available. 303-794-2787, www.townhallartscenter.com
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