Bat Boy: The Musical

Dead cows, irate townsfolk and a bat boy ran rampant on the Little Theatre stage this past weekend.

The Chappell Players Theatre Group opened their 2007-2008 season with Bat Boy: The Musical. The show, written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming and with lyrics and music by Laurence O’Keefe, originally ran off-Broadway in 2001 and is currently moving to the West End in London.

“What drew us to Bat Boy was the combination of the rock-pop inspired musical score and unrestricted humor,” said Joseph Cantalupo, president of the Chappell Players and the student producer of the show.

Inspired by an article in the Weekly World News tabloid, Bat Boy is a Lifetime movie set to music. The small Virginia town of Hope Falls is thrown into an uproar when a bat boy (played by junior Timothy Young) is discovered by a group of spelunkers.

Deeming the creature dangerous after he bites one townsperson, the sheriff turns him over to the local veterinarian’s family. Meredith Parker (junior Bridget McNeeley), a character with the poise of June Cleaver and a dash of Desperate Housewives intrigue, immediately takes to the boy and decides to rehabilitate him. Her daughter Shelley (freshman Caitlyn Mason) reluctantly agrees to help her, and slowly finds herself in a relationship akin to Beauty and the Beast. This does not sit well with patriarch Dr. Parker (junior Jonathan Randhawa), who feels himself being edged out of his perfect suburban family.
The bat boy, christened Edgar by Meredith, completes 14 years of school within one musical number using BBC tapes and flash cards. Alas, the small minded townsfolk cannot see past his fanged grin and pointed ears and find themselves blaming every problem on the bat boy, including a plague on the cows. Dr. Parker, with his limitless supply of euthanasia drugs, plots to kill townsfolk in Edgar’s name to distract his wife from her new love and win back her affections. Here is where the proverbial waters turn muddy and love triangles and evil schemes pop up in the true musical fashion.

“I enjoyed the multi dimensional aspects of the Bat Boy character in having the chance to express a blend of innocence, depravity, rejection, love and revenge in one show,” said the bat boy himself, Timothy Young.
Bat Boy offers actors a chance to thumb their noses at typical musical theatre while singing rock songs similar to Jesus Christ Super Star and Little Shop of Horrors. Hidden deep within the dark humor are life lessons about acceptance, greed and the woes of mob mentality. Of course, the audience is also reminded that “a mountain’s no place to raise cows.” The powerful and contemporary music carries the entire show, which is almost entirely sung through. Led by musical director Jeffrey Campos, the versatile ensemble embodies three to four characters a piece.

The nature of the show also leaves places open for audience interaction, including a revival scene and a dance through the woods with forest creatures.

“For a college production I thought it was amazing,” said Debra Siegel, an audience member and playwright for the 2007 Fringe Festival. “They’ve got such a talented cast that it makes a really weird story believable and fun. The show has some really great singers but I was most impressed by the acting. They give it everything they’ve got.”

The director Jeremy Quinn gave the cast the theme “nothing is as it seems.” Everything transforms before the audiences’ eyes, from a towering metal cage that opens up into a slaughter house to the plot twist at the end. Keep an eye on the Reverend Hightower (freshman Justin Phillips), who slips off stage to become Mrs. Taylor in the opening number of Act Two.

Remaining performance dates are October 18-20th and 26th at 8 p.m. and October 27th at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Ticket prices are $7 for St. John’s students and $14 general admission.