Boy discovers acceptance with a touch from Shelley (actor, Erin
Boy: The Musical’ flys at Great Lakes Theater Festival
By Art Thomas
Published April 28, 2010
the most famous of the sensational headlines and stories in the
“Weekly World News” is the photo and story about the strange “Bat
Boy.” The image of the gaunt, pointy-eared teen with vampire-like
incisors has continued to haunt us 18 years later.
At the Great
Lakes Theater Festival, you can see the musical based on this icon
from American pop culture history. The production does justice to
the material, but sadly, there isn’t much here to start with.
News” stories were always set in rural locations that are impossible
to locate. So, in Hope Falls, W.Va. (population 500), the world
is turned upside down, figuratively speaking, when the amazing Bat
Boy is discovered. There’s romance, conflict, revival-type religion
intervention and, finally, resolution and understanding.
Boy (actor Mitch McCarrell) asks for acceptance from the residents
of his hometown when he sings “Let Me Walk Among You” in Great
Lakes Theater Festival’s production of the outrageous off- Broadway
hit “Bat Boy: The Musical.” (Photos courtesy of Roger Mastroianni)
Mitch McCarrell is the nimble Bat Boy who just seeks
to be accepted in a world where cows are treated better than he
is. Erin Childs gives support as Shelley Parker. Lynn Allison and
Lynn Robert Berg are Dr. Thomas and Merideth Parker.
“Bat Boy” tries
to elevate itself with shadowy structures of classic theater and
themes of prejudice and racism. This production is best in the broader
strokes. Dr. Parker’s fix for any situation is a baseball bat-sized
hypodermic needle. So The Three Stooges triumph over Oedipus Rex.
You’ll enjoy Aled Davies’ portly Sheriff Reynolds and Fabio Polance’s
over-the-top Reverend Billy.
in “Bat Boy: The Musical” are primarily actors rather than singers.
Fortunately, the songs are not masterpieces, and the ensemble performs
them with gusto. Matthew Webb’s musical direction and Martin Cespedes
choreography are first rate. Victoria Bussert makes the most of
the music and the performers.
Best of all,
the renovated Hanna Theatre, which has been problematic for musicals,
absorbs this production quite well. There may not be much substance
to the book and music, but the audience can hear and comprehend
every note clearly — an improvement over last season.
“Bat Boy: The
Musical” is running in repertory with Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer
Night’s Dream” through May 16.
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