REVIEW: Monstrous Mammals! “Bat Boy: The Musical” at the Bonstelle

Reviewd by Sue Suchyta

Click HERE to read the review on Sue’s blog.

View production photos!

Nicholas Yocum  (center, kneeling) as the Bat Boy and Bridgette Jordan (standing , center) as the Reverend  attend a revival meeting with the townfolk. (Photo by Kevin Replinger)

Nicholas Yocum (center, kneeling) as the Bat Boy and Bridgette Jordan (standing , center) as the Reverend attend a revival meeting with the townfolk. (Photo by Kevin Replinger)

The rock ‘n’ roll show “Bat Boy: The Musical” flies out of its cave and into the Bonstelle to close out the Wayne State University undergraduate theatre’s 2012 – 2013 season.

The musical, first performed on Halloween in 1997, drew inspiration from a 1992 fictional account of a Bat Boy chronicled in the tabloid “Weekly World News.”

“Bat Boy” opened April 12 and runs for two weekends, with 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows and 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. The theatre is on Woodward Avenue at Elliot in Detroit.

Tickets are $20 to $25 and are available by phone or online. For more information, call (313) 577-2960 or go to www.bonstelle.com.

When a local veterinarian and his family adopt a boy with bat-like features found living in a cave, residents of their small town become suspicious.

The townspeople exhibit hypocrisy, racism and revenge, which for some lead eventually to understanding, forgiveness and acceptance. The show’s serious themes are interspersed slapstick, surrealism and a campy sense of humor.

There are Biblical allusions, and references to humans exploring their dark side or animalistic urges as they answer the drive to fulfill their needs as a species for food, sex, power and control. The play hints at the need for humans to embrace their basic animal instincts so as a species they will no longer fear their base desires and urges.

The story is many things, and one senses from the beginning that the end will not be happy – this is not a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Audiences accept early on that death will happen, there will be sadness, and the survivors will not be celebrants.

It is, however, a different type of show, and well performed. Viewers will either love or hate the storyline; indifference is not an option.

Likewise, the acting and production talent is very much evident.

The Bonstelle cast and production team are top notch. Directed by Michael Barnes, with choreographer Jeffrey Michael Rebudal and music director Daniel Greig, the actors display an energetic devotion to the show, delivering a fast-paced production with strong acting, singing and dancing.

The songs, while well-performed, are not as memorial as musical songs often are; and while rock ‘n’ roll works fine for some musicals, there are not any signature songs that one leaves the theater humming or singing.

Most of the sixteen cast members performed multiple roles and all had rapid, multiple costume changes.

Stand-outs in the cast include Nicholas Yocum of Royal Oak as the Bat Boy, Kelly Robinson as Royal Oak as Meredith Parker and Britta Peele of Harrison Township as Shelley Parker.

Bridgette Jordan of Southfield as the revival reverend, Alyssa Lucas of Garden City as the mayor and Matthew Miazgowicz of Dearborn as Lorraine and other cameo roles are notable as well.

The multi-level set designed by Curtis Green is creative and versatile, segueing from a subterranean cave to a suburban home with a quick flick of the stage magic wrist. Fred Florkowski, technical director, and stage manager Meghan Lynch, contribute to the stage magic as well, with exceptional lighting design by Brian Scruggs.

Kudos to properties master Anthony Karpinski and costume designer Mary Gietzen.

The casting is fascinatingly androgynous, perhaps to remind audiences that humans are merely predatory mammals dressed in pseudo-civilizing sheepskin.

‘Bat Boy: The Musical’ opens next Firday!

‘Bat Boy: The Musical’ opens next Thursday! Buy your tickets online!

Join the Facebook Event or check out our photo album. We’ll be updating photos all week as we get ready for this fantastic show!

Bat-Boy-Poster-CLICK

PRESS RELEASE: ‘Bat Boy: The Musical’

Bat Boy: The Musical Flies into the Bonstelle Theatre for Only Two Weeks

Opening April 12, 2013

Ruthie (Anna Seibert), Bat Boy (Nicholas Yocum), and Rick (Luke Rose)Photo: Alexandra Stewart

Ruthie (Anna Seibert), Bat Boy (Nicholas Yocum), and Rick (Luke Rose)
Photo: Alexandra Stewart

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 ReynoldsAlyssa 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

Calendar Information-

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