Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Bat Boy: The Musical"

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note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Susan Daniels

“Bat Boy: The Musical”

Reviewed by Susan Daniels

“Bat Boy: The Musical” returned to Boston Center for the Arts earlier this month in the same way it opened there last fall: a splendid evening of entertainment filled with bravura performances, arresting musical numbers, and a cohesive ensemble that brings a palpable energy to SpeakEasy Stage Company’s idiosyncratic show. Based on a series of bizarre articles from a supermarket tabloid about a pointy-eared boy -- “half-man, half-bat” -- found in a cave outside a small town in West Virginia, the production, which at different turns is outrageous, sweet, funny, and tender, balances between parody and straight musical theater under the inventive direction of Paul Daiganeault.

The two hour and twenty minute show, which runs through January 25, chronicles Bat Boy’s adventures, from his capture by three local hicks to his hilarious yet bittersweet struggle to find love and acceptance in a rural town peopled by all sorts of eccentrics.

Heading a multi-talented cast, the compact, yet muscular Miguel Cervantes as Bat Boy hangs upside down; swoops around the small stage in a display of amazing athleticism; and screeches, shrieks and squeals while gesturing in little frenetically jagged movements. On top of this very convincing bat-like persona, Cervantes, who reprises his role along with the rest of the ensemble, is a talented actor/singer. In “I’ll Show You A Thing or Two,” one of the show’s funniest numbers, Bat Boy whizzes from guttural sounds to a proper English accent, reminiscent of “The Rain in Spain” from “My Fair Lady.”

Other musicals, like “Lion King,” and musical styles, such as Sondheim and Webber, are parodied by composer/lyricist Laurence O’Keefe, who teamed up with Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming (story and book) in 1997 when the show premiered in Los Angeles, before moving to New York and racking up a bunch of awards, including the Outer Critics Circle award for best musical.

Speakeasy’s production hits a perfect bull’s eye, though a case could be made that “Bat Boy” is not everyone’s type of entertainment. Nevertheless, the versatile five piece band supports the talented ten member troupe, composed of seasoned professionals and young performers just emerging from school, through a romp into musical mayhem.

"Batboy: The Musical" (till 25 January)
The Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 426-27877

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide