Based on a true fake story in The Weekly World News, BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL is a musical comedy/horror show about a half boy/half bat creature who is discovered in a cave near Hope Falls, West Virginia. For lack of a better solution, the local sheriff (a Mayberryesque Will Foley) brings Bat Boy to the home of the town veterinarian, Dr. Parker (entertaining Brian Altman), where he is eventually accepted as a member of the family and taught to act like a “normal” boy by the veterinarian’s wife, Meredith (a brilliantly campy Amiee Collier), and teenage daughter, Shelley (beautiful Stephanie Harden). Bat Boy (Pat Miller) is happy with his new life, but when he naively tries to fit in with the narrow-minded people of Hope Falls, they turn on him, prodded by the machinations of Dr. Parker, who secretly despises Bat Boy. Shelley and Bat Boy, who have fallen in love, run away together from the ignorant townsfolk and have a blissful coupling in the woods, but their happiness is shattered when Meredith arrives and reveals a secret. Soon the entire town arrives and hears the shocking story of Bat Boy’s unholy origin.
We first meet Bat Boy as he hangs upside down in his cave, and to be honest, he is not the only one that should be swinging. Due to a new sound system, the night I was there was plagued with sound issues. I am sure that issue is being addressed more than the Republicans are Benghazi, but it was a major distraction. Also, some of the lighting was off, either called late, or actors left in the dark. Having said that, there is much to celebrate.
Obviously, I thought Miller was great. Complete total commitment to the role. Powerful vocal, acting and a sense of limitless and pervasive energy. Aided by a remarkable Special Effects Design by P.J. Toomey. Add in the detailed brilliance of Costume Designer, Jenniver Sparano, and the results are a blast. Collier once again shows her equity (she could easily be, and was, but not now) bravado. She is in complete campy control, armed with a clarion voice. Her comedic timing is perfect. Altman displays his comedic chops as well as the maniacal Dr. Parker. His is so charming on stage, and watching him flip to the dark side is an enjoyable ride. He also adds his vocal prowess to the evening. Harden offers a quirky ingenue for the evening, which is aided by an attractive stage presence, and a quality voice. She also jumps in the comedic timing pool head first.
The rest of the cast is a hot mess of fun. Will Foley, Jacob Damsky, Colleen McCaughey and Venchise Glenn add sizable contributions to the zaniness. There were a few that I have a shout out. Kristy Cruz brought her Mark Wahlberg realness to one side of her characters, and was dead on with all of her choices. I just want to have a shot and a beer with her/him/them. Michael Crowley was fantastic in giving the Reverand Hightower some Whitney notes for days, and taking the crowd to church in raucous style. But he doesn’t stop there. As a wigged and rollered Mrs. Taylor, he is hilarious, and gives one death look take for the ages. And as far as sustaining a crazy fun performance, Stephen Berg is an X-rated scream as Pan, delivering a fully aroused Barry White moment that will certainly stay with you after the performance. If it is still with you after 4 hours, please seek medical attention. His one-eyed farmer also hits every comedic target.
Ciamacco should be proud. Great cast, great fun and a kick ass Set Design. Music Director Lawrence Wallace delivered a solid wall of sound. The choreography was campy and sharp as provided by Katie Zarecki. Stage Manager Brittany Gaul called a great show. Impeccable costumes by Jenniver Sparano. Lighting Design was good, but some focus could be enhanced. Animation Design by Noah Hrbek was incredibly original and funny. To my taste, could have been streamlined a bit more, as it is narrated live. But certainly a true original work that was impressive. Sound Designer Tobias Peltier and Sound Operator Bryanna Bauman have their work cut out for them. One more shout out to P.J. Toomey and Jenniver Sparano for creating this version of Bat Boy. A creative match made in heaven.
See you at the Cave!
$18 General Admission
Order Tickets Online
Blank Canvas Theatre
1305 West 80th Street, Suite 211
Cleveland, OH 44102