Bats in Outcry Theatre’s Belfry

Original 2001 Off Broadway poster for Bat Boy: The Musical

Bat Boy: The Musical is no Spring Awakening, if that’s what it aspires to. Are you easily offended? If so, give this show a pass. It’s an equal opportunity, multi-level offender. But if you find a parody concerning a disabled, blood-sucking, kind of effeminate, part human lad, widely misunderstood by stereotypically violent, rural hicks a funny premise, go for it. 2001 had very different standards for appropriate parody than 2017. Maybe off key singing (30 songs with optional overture in at least one version, according to internet sources), harried acting and a WAY over-loud 4-piece combo banging out those tunes with great enthusiasm will amuse you as well. That’s pretty much what you will experience in Outcry Theatre’s well-intentioned but under par production of this show at Addison Conference and Theatre Centre through October 15.

Nobody sets out to maul a show, do they? And not every production is a winner. In 2001, Bat Boy: The Musical won awards for best Off-Broadway musical: the Lucille Lortel Award, two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Outer Critics Circle, too. None too slouchy. Sorry, Outcry. Next time?

Bat Boy: The Musical premiered at Actors Gang Theatre in 1997 and has had successful runs worldwide, including London’s West End and the Edinburgh Festival. It’s based on a June 23, 1992 Weekly World News story about a half-boy, half-bat, dubbed “Bat Boy”, who grew up living in a cave. The score was written for a five-piece band of guitar, two keyboards, bass and drums, with the original cast album adding seven extra instruments (cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, French horn, trumpet, trombone). Its musical styles include: rock, rap, horror-style film score and opera. Needless to say, it’s a demanding work, an endurance race of a show. Everybody tries in the Outcry production. Give them A for Effort. Man, I sure don’t want to return to 2001. Let’s move forward and do better, huh?

Here’s a charming article about the original from the New Yorker in 2001:

Outcry Theatre’s production of Bat Boy: The Musical runs through October 15 at Addison Conference and Theatre Centre. You are advised.


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