Bat Boy, The Musical
Book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe
Directed by Valerie Canon
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2016 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
Susan Crocker, Elliott Talkington in Bat Boy, The Musical. Photo by Martin French.
Surely we’ve all heard of Bat Boy, a character made up to catch the eye and sell tabloids in the check-out line. Where did he come from? Where does he live? How does he survive? Is he real? He’s the stuff of legend and modern folklore and musicals. Yes. That’s right. There’s a musical about Bat Boy and it’s pretty darn entertaining. And this delightfully weird show is currently, and appropriately, on stage at The Alley Theater.
Think The Elephant Man meets My Fair Lady with a dash of Edward Scissorhands and you have the gist of this quirky show. Drama ensues in a Podunk West Virginia town when a boy with bat like features is found by a group of teens getting stoned in a cave. A story rich with histrionic flair, the cast takes full advantage of basking in the melodrama ripped from the Weekly World News. With all the drama, I found myself wanting more camp with such a ridiculous story and perfect one-liners weaved into the script. At times the jokes fell flat while other punch lines weren’t fully realized.
Yet, the leads deliver strong performances which forgives any kind of flub or mishap. As the redneck Taylor family, Andrew Mertz as Rick, Shelby Fogarty as Ruthie, Adam Ellis as Ron, and JoAnne Sweeny as the matriarch (Marcy Ziegler in other performances) are hyper-reactive and vengeful bunch, bringing satisfyingly over the top performances accentuated with southern drawls. Jon Adams’ God-fearing seeped-in-tradition performance as Sheriff Reynolds, with his rendition of “Christian Charity” felt like a character straight out of Mayberry.
Now let’s talk about the actual Bat Boy, or Edgar as he’s later named in the play. Elliot Talkington’s physicality as the Bat Boy is fantastic and fully actualized. His leaps, screams and trembles are larger than life and he takes pleasure in the details of such a character with curled hands, rapid head movements, and gape-mouthed facial expressions. Talkington has created a character that may be gruesome to look at but is genuinely likeable as he adapts to society in numbers such as “Show You A Thing Or Two,” and “Let Me Walk Among You.”
Susan Crocker as Shelly, a teenage girl driven by angst, puppy love, and hormones, is a complete and total ham and a perfect love interest for Talkington’s Bat Boy. She reminds us all what it’s like to be young and in love during “Inside Your Heart.” Chris Meier’s Dr. Parker is a worthy villain for Bat Boy. In numbers like “Comfort and Joy” and “Parker’s Epiphany,” we witness Meier’s vocal abilities as he reveals Dr. Parker’s darker side. Joy Beth DeWitt’s Meredith is a wholesome throwback to June Cleaver and her vocal stylings in “Three Bedroom House” were impressive. DeWitt also carries the twist of the show in her back pocket. Slowly she reveals clues in well-crafted scenes with Bat Boy. She does such a good job keeping the audience guessing the truth behind Bat Boy’s origin that when she tells the full story, the audience’s reaction of astonishment is audible.
Although the premise of Bat Boy may seem a little sophomoric, the show is actually a lot of fun. With all the twists, turns and even a singing sloth, The Alley Theater’s Bat Boy is sure to entertain.
Bat Boy, The Musical
October 6-29, 2016
The Alley Theater
633 West Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!