note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Beverly Creasey
Reviewed by Beverly Creasey
SpeakEasy does it again. Director Paul Daigneault sleuths out little Off-Broadway phenomena and brings them to Boston---often improving on the originals.
"Bat Boy" was inspired by the wacky WEEKLY WORLD NEWS tabloid which has been chronicling the adventures of a half human, half animal who turned up in a West Virginia cave. (WORLD WEEKLY now has Bayboy in Afghanistan.) Authors Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming (or is it "Brian F. Lemming" I wonder!) were so taken with the creature that they invented an adoptive family, and even a romance for the pointy-eared misfit. Lawrence O'Keefe's clever, hip songs spoof "Jesus Christ Superstar" "Sweeney Todd" "The Lion King" and a host of other Broadway musicals. BUT what makes this "Bat Boy" fly is an extraordinary performance by Miguel Cervantes as the misunderstood mammal.
Cervantes wowed audiences at Reagle Players this past summer catapulting across the stage in "Damn Yankees" (Always with the bats again!) but he does a lot more than hoof and summersault in Daigneault's surprisingly sweet production. He brings a wistful innocence to the role, and when he smiles (even with those long incisors) he melts your heart.
Sara Chase is delightful as Bat Boy's love interest (she lights up the theatre), and Kerry Dowling cuts quite a swath through the story as Bat Boy's most loyal supporter. Mary Callanan is hilarious as a born-again preacher/ a good ol' West Va. matriarch/ etc. Kudos to jenna Rossi for Bat Boy's stylish attire --- complete with PETA patches!
Now, if they'd only do a musical about that other sensational tabloid cover --- "Mink Coat Comes Alive and Eats Its Owner" .......