‘Bat Boy: The Musical’ opens next Thursday! Buy your tickets online!
Bat Boy: The Musical Flies into the Bonstelle Theatre for Only Two Weeks
Opening April 12, 2013
DETROIT— The Bonstelle Theatre presents the rock ‘n’ roll cult classic, Bat Boy: The Musical by Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming, and Laurence O’Keefe, running for only two weeks, April 12 through 21, 2013. Based on the grocery store tabloid, Weekly World News, Bat Boy: The Musical is a rambunctious musical comedy that closes the Bonstelle Theatre season with a bite. Tickets are $20-$25 and are available by calling (313) 577-2960, visiting http://www.bonstelle.com, or visiting the Wayne State University Theatres Box Office located at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.
Bat Boy: The Musical is about a supernatural half bat/half boy creature that is discovered in a cave in West Virginia and brought to the home of local veterinarian Dr. Parker. The Parker family decides to take him in and teach him to behave as a normal human, attempting to integrate him into a narrow-minded town. As he tries to fit in, romantic sparks fly and he decides to run away with the veterinarian’s daughter, Shelley. But happiness is shattered as the town hears the shocking story of Batboy’s unholy origin.
First performed on Halloween in 1997, Bat Boy: The Musical has had success both in the United States and in London’s West End. The character of Bat Boy was created by former Weekly World News Editor Dick Kulpa, and debuted as a cover story on June 23, 1992. The original front-page photo of Bat Boy, showing his grotesque screaming face, was the second-best selling issue in the tabloid’s history, and he has since evolved into a pop-culture icon. This creature inspired writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming to write a stage adaptation, and they were joined by American composer/lyricist Laurence O’Keefe.
The musical differs in a few of its plot details from the Weekly World News portrayal of Bat Boy. In the musical, Bat Boy learns to speak from his adoptive family, yearns for acceptance and tries to join society, only to face hatred and violence from a town that fears him and jealous rage from his foster father. But according to the Weekly World News, Bat Boy is a member of a race of creatures who have interacted with humans for at least 400 years, and he was discovered in the Ozarks in 1992 by biologist Dr. Ron Dillon after he was trapped by a falling rock in a cave he was hiding in. At the time only two feet tall and weighing less than 20 pounds, Dr. Dillon was shocked later when the creature grew a set of wings and escaped. This would be only the first of Bat Boy’s many captures and escapes that Weekly World News would expand upon.
Though Bat Boy and his stories told by Weekly World News are fictional, the story of Bat Boy: The Musical deals with serious themes such as hypocrisy, acceptance, forgiveness, racism, revenge, and scapegoating, but often punctures the most serious moments with slapstick, surrealism, camp-horror, and irony. The show also contains religious themes with biblical allusions. One interesting theme about the show, which lies somewhat underneath the surface, is the idea that we all have a dark side, or an animal side, that comes out when we’re afraid, that drives us as humans for food, sex, power, or control; and the idea that we must embrace this side of ourselves instead of fear it.
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 and Letters, and the Outer Critics Circle Award in 2001. Regional productions of Bat Boy have been nominated for and won awards including the 2003 Elliot Norton Award (New England) and the 1998 Ovation Awards (Los Angeles).
The cast includes (in alphabetical order):
Jacqueline Fenton (Allen Park, MI) Ensemble, Ivy Haralson (Belleville, MI) Ron Taylor, Bridgette Jordan (Southfield, MI) Reverend Billy Hightower, Sara Kline (Madison Heights, MI) Sheriff Reynolds, Alyssa Lucas (Garden City, MI) Maggie, Colin Mallory (East Lansing, MI) Pan/Daisy, Jackson McLaskey (Mt. Clemens, MI) Dr. Thomas Parker, Matthew Miazgowicz (Dearborn, MI) Lorraine, Shane Nelson (Windsor, ON) Bud, Britta Peele (Harrison Township, MI) Shelley Parker, Jonathan Pigott (Wyandotte, MI) Ensemble, Kelly Robinson (Royal Oak, MI) Meredith Parker, Luke Rose (Harrison Township, MI) Rick Taylor, Anthony Scamihorn (Marshall, MI) Mrs. Taylor, Anna Seibert (Detroit, MI) Ruthie Taylor/Ned, Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI) Bat Boy/Edgar.
The production team includes:
Michael J. Barnes (Director), Julia Moriarty (Assistant Director), Jeffrey Michael Rebudal (Choreographer), Daniel Greig (Music Director), Devon L. Hansen (Instrumental Music Director), Meghan Lynch (Stage Manager), Curtis Green (Scenic Designer), Anthony Karpinski (Technical Director and Properties Master), Mary Gietzen (Costume Designer), Brian M. Scruggs (Lighting Designer), Tyler Ezell (Sound Designer), and Alexandra Stewart (Publicity Manager).
About the Bonstelle Theatre
The Bonstelle Theatre is a Broadway-style House with a 1,143-seat auditorium featuring a balcony, owned by Wayne State University. Here, future stars of theatre, film, and television follow in the footsteps of such successful alumni as Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning S. Epatha Merkerson (NBC’s Law and Order, Lackawanna Blues), Lily Tomlin (9 to 5, ABC’s Desperate Housewives) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, NBC’s Heroes). For box office hours and information on performances, tickets, group discounts and corporate packages, please call the box office at (313) 577-2960 or visit the theatre’s website at www.bonstelle.com. Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.
Season sponsored by CBS Outdoor, Between the Lines, and Encore Michigan
Bat Boy: The Musical
Book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe
April 12, 2013 – April 21, 2013
Friday 8 p.m. April 12, April 19
Saturday 8 p.m. April 13, April 20
Sunday 2 p.m. April 14, April 21
Now that the gorgeously designed, directed and performed The Arabian Nights has come to a close at the Bonstelle Theatre, take a moment to reflect on what audiences witnessed onstage with a behind-the-scenes style interview conducted with its director, PhD. candidate, Jennifer Goff. For more information about Jennifer, check out her website!
Q: What approach did you take when directing The Arabian Nights?
A: My overall approach to the play was to start with the stories themselves. This is a story made up of stories – about the power of stories. We really wanted to look at what it is that stories do, how they function and how these particular stories have been passed down through the centuries. These stories began being passed down orally and weren’t even written down until a couple hundred years after they first started circulating.
We wanted to explore the beauty of taking these stories, which are usually only read, and put them on the stage. The theatre itself is such a three-dimensional, interactive way to tell stories, that it really became a celebration of the power of storytelling. Storytelling is something that is not only entertaining, a lot of fun, emotional and exciting, but it’s something that actually can change a person and affect the world. I think you really see that very clearly through Scheherazade’s story – this is a story about stories and what they do to, and for, people.
Q: What was it like directing your first play at the Bonstelle Theatre?
A: Well, directing at the Bonstelle is a very different experience than I’ve had in a long time. First of all, it’s bigger! Most of the productions I’ve directed, both here and professionally over the last decade or so, have been on smaller stages…where the audience has a very intimate relationship with the performers. The challenge with a huge stage like the Bonstelle is still giving audiences an intimate experience, even though they’re much farther away. Directing has really been a lot about working with the actors on how to communicate, not only with each other, but with the audience. It has been a big adventure but these students are so energetic and marvelous that…they taught me a lot along the way as well.
Q: What role did movement play in this production?
A: Movement was a huge part of this production. The Arabian Nights and most of Mary Zimmerman’s work are part of what’s called the Chamber Theatre Tradition, which is basically a combination of narrative storytelling and theatre. There is a very interesting combination of “acting out” and becoming the characters, yet also still being you while relating the story.
Most of the actors play multiple roles and although you can see it in their lines, costumes and in the stories themselves, the physicality of each character becomes really important. The audience should be able to see an actor as a new character and know before they even speak that they are someone else. Movement has been a huge part of delineating all these different characters and stories. It’s been really fun.
Q: Was it important to you to convey Zimmerman’s original message of the play?
A: It was very important to me to try to honor what Mary Zimmerman was attempting to do when she adapted this piece. She first adapted The Arabian Nights in 1992, right in the middle of the first Gulf War conflict. She was really responding to the “us versus them” mentality that is a part of “war time”. She was disturbed by this idea that we could somehow separate ourselves from what was “over there” and that they were somehow “not us.” She wanted to look at stories – a very famous set of stories – and use them to introduce Western audiences to this culture that was so “over there” – far away – letting these Western audiences see that there’s really a whole lot more that we have in common than what we have different.
It’s interesting because the time period these stories come from is known as the Golden Age of Islam. It was at that point when Baghdad was the center of culture, trade and commerce. In the 13th century, Baghdad was sacked by the Mongol army. At the time, Baghdad was home to this amazing library called the House of Wisdom. One of the first things the Mongols did when they sacked the city was destroy the library. They took the documents, which were from all over the world and just threw them in the Tigris River. The saying goes, that on that day, the Tigris River ran black with ink as the streets of Baghdad ran red with blood.
It’s the idea that stories are what make us who we are, so it wasn’t enough for the Mongols to kill the people; they wanted to try to kill the stories. But you can’t – because once the stories are heard they live on. So here Zimmerman was, taking these stories and saying – you can’t separate the people from their stories. You can’t separate us from these stories or from these people. It’s a really beautiful message of unity and inclusion and understanding.
Q: Do you believe the message of The Arabian Nights is still relevant today?
A: I think the message is extremely relevant. We’ve been in conflict in the Middle East actively for the last ten years. Especially with the way warfare happens now, it’s so easy to disconnect ourselves and forget that there are real people involved in this, on both sides of the conflict. Any steps we can take to remember the people and the little strings that are connected so intricately between us and everyone – I think that will humanize us and reminds us that we all have a lot in common.
Reviewed by Robert Delaney, Detroit New Monitor
Thursday, February 14, 2013
A young woman saves her neck by telling fascinating stories to the prince she has been forced to marry in “The Arabian Nights,” the current production at Wayne State’s Bonstelle Theatre in midtown Detroit.
Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman has adapted the famous collection of Persian, Indian and Arabic tales, “The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night,” for the stage. Under Jennifer Goff’s direction a youthful and energetic undergraduate cast has great fun performing it — and that fun is shared by the audience.
It would, of course, be impossible to include all of the tales in one play, and Zimmerman has chosen to leave out some of the more familiar ones — such as those of Sinbad, Aladdin and Ali Baba (which were not actually in the original collection) — in favor of some less well known stories.
Yesmeen Mikhail is the storytelling enchantress, Scheherazade, and Luke Rose is her homicidal husband, Shahryar. They both also portray other characters, as do all of the cast members.
Also very impressive are Laith Salim as Harun al-Rashid, Lisa Youngs as Sympathy, and Nicholas Yocum as the Madman. Scenic designer Leazah Behrens has given us a fanciful set, and the costumes designed by Donna Buckley are (who would have thought I’d ever be able to say this) “right out of the ‘Arabian Nights.’”
“The Arabian Nights” continues this weekend, through February 17, with performances at 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and at 2 p.m., Sunday afternoon, at the Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Avenue, a block south of Mack and just a few blocks south of Orchestra Hall. For ticket information, call the WSU Theatre box ofﬁce at (313) 577-2960 or go to www.wsushows.com.
Reviewed by Patty Nolan, The Examiner
Click HERE to read the review on the Examiner’s website.
If you’re like most Americans, any mention of the “1001 Arabian Nights” conjures Technicolor images inspired by Disney. But Sinbad, Ali Baba, Aladdin and the Genie are nowhere to be seen in the Bonstelle Theatre’s new production of “The Arabian Nights.” And for good reason.
When Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman adapted the collection of ancient Persian, Indian and Arabic tales into a resonating stage play, she deliberately left out the stories we know best. Instead of focusing on the fantastic, her funny, anachronistic retelling reveals and revels in the humanistic. Produced during the Gulf War, Zimmerman used the beloved, centuries-old stories to show audiences that, politics aside, we are all very much the same.
It works. Because we can’t help but understand that we are laughing, or cheering, or feeling sad for the characters in the same way that those ancient people must have.
In this Bonstelle production, directed by WSU PhD candidate Jennifer Goff, we are treated to a colorful, over-the-top show. The scenic design by Leazah Behrens is a lush swirl of carpets, silken drapes, tasseled pillows and all the trappings of an exotic Persian palace. The costumes by Donna Buckley are lavish and clever – designed to help the large cast play multiple roles.
This is still essentially the tale of Scheherazade, the young woman who must weave a new story every night in order to postpone the death sentence imposed by her misogynistic husband, the King Shahryar. But if you’re thinking about bringing the little kiddies, hold off. This version of “The Arabian Nights” is geared more toward the tastes of mature audiences.
The play opens with the king choking his first, unfaithful wife to death. Not so funny. Not so G-rated. These stories include violence, infidelity and even epic flatulence. Apparently, the comedic appeal of a good fart is universal. This show is funny. Surprisingly so. And the huge Bonstelle cast is just wonderful. With each new story that Scheherazade tells, the ensemble brings it to life. Every actor plays multiple roles – some serious, sad and romantic – but many of them are worthy of your favorite bit of slapstick. And we like these characters. We want them to survive, find their true loves and make lots of babies.
And that’s what Zimmerman is trying to tell us. As human beings, our stories are essentially the same. We weep when our hearts are broken. We laugh when someone breaks wind. We yield too often to temptation. But sometimes we do the right thing. And that makes life worth celebrating and sharing. Just like this charming Bonstelle production.
The spectacular Bonstelle company includes: Zyle Christian-Cook (Marcellus, MI) as Butcher and Others, Robert J. Hammond (Troy, MI) as Jester and Others, Ivy Haralson (Belleville, MI) as Perfect Love and Others, Garett Harris (Royal Oak, MI) as Boy and Others, Sharayah Johnson (Birch Run, MI) as Greengrocer and Others, Derell Jones (Detroit, MI) as Pastrycook and Others, Alyssa Lucas (Garden City, MI) as Abu al-Hasan and Others, Sydney Machesky (Allen Park, MI) as Dunyazade and Others, Taylor Morrow (Warren, MI) as Girl and Others, Jackson McLaskey (Mt. Clemens, MI) as Clarinetist and Others, Michael Meike (Clinton TWP) as Wazir and Others, Yesmeen Mikhail (Wyandotte, MI) as Scheherezade and Others, Luke Rose (Harrison TWP, MI) as Shahryar and Others, Laith Salim (Dearborn, MI) as Harun al-Rashid and Others, Nicholas Yocum (Royal Oak, MI) as Madman and Others and Lisa Youngs (Wyandotte, MI) as Sympathy the Learned and Others.
“The Arabian Nights” runs at The Bonstelle Theatre in Detroit through February 17. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15 and are availableonline, by phone (313) 577-2960, or by visiting the Wayne State University Theatres’ Box Office located at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock.
The Bonstelle Theatre continues its 60th season with the critically acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee dramatized by Christopher Sergel Tomorrow. Pulitzer prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird is a story portrayed through the eyes of a young girl who, during the Great Depression, learns life’s hard lessons about morality, fear of difference and the death of innocence. The play runs from December 3-12, 2010. Tickets are $12-15 and are available by calling the Theatre Box Office at 313-577-2960, online at www.bonstelle.com, or by visiting the box office at 4743 Cass Ave. on the corner of Cass Ave. and Hancock.
Here’s a glimpse into that Depression-era Alabama world. Derrell Jones, Amber Gale, Ivy Haralson, and Cecilia Shropshire are featured.