Black Sheep gets its teeth into a batty show

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Categories: Professional Theatre

Photograph: Barbara Gray

The Weekly World News has a lot to answer for. In June 1992, then editor Dick Kulpa published a purportedly true story about a half-human, half-bat living in a cave in West Virginia. The supermarket tabloid is now defunct, but the mythical creature lives on in the cult musical created by writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming five years later.

The genetically challenged premise aside, the bizarre story line requires maximum suspension of disbelief, particularly after taking a left turn on its way to a ridiculous ending.

Yes, I know it’s intended as a send-up of vampire tales, westerns and such big musicals as The Lion King with a tip of the hat and a wink to My Fair Lady and smaller shows such as Greater Tuna, but the Batboy story is still too nonsensical for my taste.

However, despite its foolishness and its forgettable music, Batboy: The Musical, as presented by Black Sheep Theatre, is entertaining. With director Dave Dawson at the helm, well supported by choreographer Leslie Glen and a high-energy cast, the show far outstrips the material.

Zachary Counsil, as the only cast member to restrain himself to characterization (rather than settling for caricature) is outstanding in the title role, overcoming pointed ears and fangs to be truly touching as the outsider desperately seeking acceptance.

Kris Joseph is compelling as the sexually frustrated, evil veterinarian (and a very campy Pan – perhaps the Weekly World News also published a story about the goat-footed god of fertility in the next cave).

Tim Oberholzer, as the drawling sheriff, and Rebecca Perry, as the evangelical minister, have fun with their roles, while Rebekah Shirey and Alessia Lupiano as the vet’s wife and daughter, focus on nurturing the stranger. It is a pity that they look too close in age to be believable as mother and daughter, a situation that would have been helped by a change of hairstyle for Shirey.

In general, however, this production works in spite of the weakness of the script and being too far over the top at times.

Batboy: The Musical continues at Gladstone Theatre to February 2.

Story and Book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming

Music and Lyrics by Lawrence O’Keefe

A Black Sheep Theatre presentation at Gladstone Theatre

Director: Dave Dawson

Musical Director: Steven Lafond

Choreographer: Leslie Glen

Set: Pierre Ducharme

Lighting: Christine Hecker

Costumes: Maggie Matian

Cast:

Roy, Mrs. Taylor, Man From The Institute………………….David B. Brown

Mayor Maggie, Ruthie Taylor……………………………………Hilary Carroll

Ron Taylor, Bud…………………………………………………..  ..Mathieu Charlebois

Bat Boy………………………………………………………………   ..Zachary Counsil

Dr Parker The God Pan, Clem………………………………    ..Kris Joseph

Daisy…………………………………………………………………..   .Victoria Elisabeth Luloff

Shelley Parker…………………………………………………….   …Alessia Lupiano

Rick Taylor, Ned, Dance Captain……………………………….Ben Montgomery

Sheriff Reynolds………………………………………………….  …Tim Oberholzer

Rev. Billy Hightower, Lorraine, Doctor………………………Rebecca Perry

Meredith Parker…………………………………………………  ……Rebekah Shirey

Gladstone Theatre: Jan 15 to Feb. 2

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