Saturday, July 12, 2014

Applause! Applause! Review of StageLight Entertainment's Bat Boy: The Musical at The BACCA Arts Center by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of StageLight Entertainment's production of Bat Boy: The Musical at The BACCA Arts Center was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 4 (2014) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Bat Boy: The Musical
StageLight Entertainment Production
The BACCA Arts Center (149 Wellwood Avenue, Lindenhurst, NY)
Reviewed 7/11/14

Bat Boy: The Musical, with book written by Keythe Farley & Brian Flemming and music and lyrics written by Laurence O'Keefe, is based on a June 23, 1992 Weekly World News story about a half-boy, half-bat dubbed "Bat Boy" who grew up living in a cave. It was first developed at The Directors Company and had its world premiere at Tim Robbins' Actors Gang Theatre on October 31, 1997 in Los Angeles. The musical opened off-Broadway at the Union Square Theatre on March 21, 2001 closing on December 2, 2001. It played at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and then opened in the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London on September 8, 2004 running through January 15, 2005. Bat Boy: The Musical won awards for best Off-Broadway musical including the Lucille Lortel Award, two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the Outer Critics Circle Award in 2001.

The story is intentionally ridiculous. Dr. Thomas Parker, a young veterinarian developing a prototype pheromone for cows accidentally spills it on Meredith, his assistant, causing him to rape her in a fit of sexual desire. While on her way home, Meredith is sexually violated again by a colony of bats and nine months later, she gives birth to a girl, who they name Shelley, and to a half-bat baby boy who Dr. Parker eventually leaves at the mouth of a cave, where the baby is adopted and brought up by bats. Years later, three spelunkers, Ron, Rick & Ruthie Taylor discover Bat Boy, who bites Ruthie in the neck. They bring him back alive and Sheriff Reynolds places him in the custody of Dr. Parker and his now wife Meredith, who names him Edgar and educates him to the point where he is able to obtain his High School Equivalency Diploma. The citizens of the fictitious town of Hope Falls, West Virginia fear Edgar and want him killed blaming many incidents taking place in the town on him but they correctly assume he needs animal blood to sustain his life. This is all as you might expect it to be but then in the second act of this musical, things really start to get crazy: Pan shows up with woodland creatures, Shelley sleeps with her brother/step-brother, Dr. Parker turns into a mass murderer and many of the main characters eventually end up dead.

This production of Bat Boy: The Musical, directed by Christopher Rosselli, is worth going to if for no other reason than to have the opportunity to see Philip Martinez play Bat Boy (Edgar). He is a very talented actor with a commanding stage presence and a great voice. Whether singing "Show You A Thing Or Two", "Let Me Walk Among You" or "Inside Your Heart" (a duet beautifully sung with Kelsey Gronda, who played Shelley), audience members sat up in their seats whenever he appeared on stage. His performance alone is worth the price of admission. Two musical numbers I liked which involved the townsfolk were "Another Dead Cow" and "A Joyful Noise". Skyler Rudolfsky put his heart into performing the dual role of Rick Taylor and Rev. Hightower. I was particularly impressed with the performance of Austin Koenigstein, who played both Bud and Pan. Also worthy of note are Anthony Morano and Jarrett Dichter, two talented young actors who appeared in this production and have a great future in the theater. Anthony Morano, who played Ned, has a wholesome, charismatic look about him while Jarrett Dichter, who primarily had the role of Ron Taylor, played the part as a somewhat nerdy, awkward kid and succeeded in bring that minor character to life.

I won't lie. This production has problems some of which were no doubt the result of having too little time to rehearse and there being so many actors on stage at the same time. The opening number saw some cast members singing off key and out of harmony resulting in an assault on my ears that caused me to cringe in pain. The pace of the first act was somewhat slow but things did move at a faster pace once we got to the second act. With respect to the actors in this production I have not mentioned, I personally would have made different casting decisions for a number of the roles. All in all, everyone performed well enough to carry their own weight. However, different actors may have been able to develop each role to present a more distinct personality for some of the characters.

StageLight Entertainment went all out to create an appropriate atmosphere to set the stage for Bat Boy: The Musical. The crew wore "Bite Me" t-shirts and "bat cupcakes" were sold at concessions. The program reported that "Three or four animals were harmed in the making of this production. Sorry." Speaking of the program, it contained the names of the actors and the parts they played and it had all the cast member photos on a separate page but it didn't put the two together with a short bio of each actor, which is the very least I feel every actor deserves for devoting their time to the production. A final note of warning. I was surprised to learn upon my arrival that seats were not being assigned on a first come, first serve basis and that if you want to sit where you prefer, you must reserve your seat on line and early to get the seats you want.

If you haven't seen Bat Boy: The Musical, this is a good opportunity to find out what it is all about. You can buy tickets by visiting the StageLight Entertainment website at or by calling 631-592-8563. 

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