REVIEW: Bonstelle’s ‘Bat Boy’ a must-see musical

Review by Robert Delaney, New Monitor

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'Bat Boy: The Musical' Credit: Kevin Replinger

‘Bat Boy: The Musical’
Credit: Kevin Replinger

A freakish creature often reported on by the Weekly World News is discovered in a West Virginia cave in “Bat Boy: The Musical,” being given a superb production at Wayne State University’s Bonstelle Theatre in Midtown Detroit.

Yes, after all these years of seeing him stare at you from the front page of that supermarket tabloid as you waited in the checkout line, Bat Boy is the subject of a lavish stage musical, thanks to Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, who wrote the book, and the music and lyrics of Laurence O’Keefe.

And Bat Boy is bringing delight, not terror, to Detroit audiences, thanks to this splendid production directed by Michael J. Barnes and performed by a truly impressive undergraduate cast.

The show is surprisingly great fun to watch, and many aspects of this WSU production rise above what one would normally expect of even a good college production.

This is most especially true of the outstanding and genuinely professional quality performances of Nicholas Yocum as Bat Boy, Britta Peele as Shelley Parker and Bridgette Jordan as Reverend Billy Hightower.

Yocum scores high marks for not only his acting and singing, but also for the agile athleticism he brings to the role.

This has been quite a season for Peele, a graduating senior in WSU’s program. She earlier wowed area audiences with her portrayal of Lolia in “Hamtown Races” at the Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck and as Annie in “Cancer, the Musical” at the Marlene Boll Theatre downtown. If you have yet to see this very talented young actress or hear her excellent singing voice, make sure you catch her in this production.

Also giving truly impressive performances are Kelly Robinson as Meredith Parker, Jackson McLaskey as Dr. Thomas Parker and Luke Rose as Rick Taylor. But the entire cast can be justly proud of the success of this production, as can the musical ensemble, led by Devon L. Hansen, and those who worked the technical side of things.

Scenic designer Curtis Green, costume designer Mary Gietzen, lighting designer Brian M. Scruggs and choreographer J.M. Rebudal are certainly among those who deserve great credit for their roles.

How sad that such a sensational production should only run for two weekends! But there is still time to get tickets to one of this weekend’s final three performances.

“Bat Boy: The Musical” continues through April 21, with performances at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, at the Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Ave., a block south of Mack. For ticket information, call the WSU Theatre box offi ce at (313) 577-2960 or visit http://www.wsushows.com.

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