Bat Boy flaps, doesn't fly

Review: The bizarre musical at The Red House spooks viewers this Halloween season.

If you give a Bat Boy a home, he’s going to ask for an education. If you give a Bat Boy an education, he’s going to ask to attend a church revival. Obviously.

If you’ll play along with the campy storyline, Red House Arts Center's latest production, “Bat Boy: The Musical” delivers the energy required by this fun show. But if you’re looking for theatrical genius, you will surely be disappointed.

Based on a Weekly World News article (think a print version of The Onion), Brian Flemming and Laurence O’Keefe’s play was never meant to be taken seriously.Bat Boy

While the pesky Taylor kids are spelunking outside of their small mining town, they discover a half-bat, half-boy. After the Bat Boy attacks young Ruthie Taylor (he sinks his fangs into her neck), the Sheriff turns the creature over to the Parker family. Dr. Thomas Parker (John Haggerty), the local veterinarian, battles his family for the euthanasia of the Bat Boy, whom his wife Meredith (Laura Austin) quickly names Edgar.

The town soon blames all problems on Edgar’s presence. Meanwhile, he learns to speak English from his new mother and a set of BBC tapes, which explains his adopted British accent. When he asks to attend a church revival, the family members must decide whether or not to face the crowd with their ‘freakish’ son.

Anton Briones’ physical acting brilliantly evolves from snarling, cave-hanging Bat Boy into a sophisticated, curious Edgar, who never truly loses his animalism.

The story line is filled with surprises. Joanna Carpenter turns in a charming performance as Shelley Parker, the daughter who falls in love with the mysterious boy living in her home. This predictable, sickeningly sweet storyline turns sour when her mother explains the origins of the Bat Boy.

In this production, professional actors teamed up with locals, giving the production an uneven quality. While Austin and Haggerty give polished, powerful performances as the couple struggling with secrets, the chorus is littered with mediocre performances highlighted by choreography that is little more than feet stomping and arm flailing.

Brian Detlefs and Stephfond Brunson tackle several different roles, cross-dressing for some, with aplomb. When either actor is onstage, they capture the inherent fun in the corny plot. And the vocal performances are spectacular.

In fact the cast’s vocal adeptness, hurt slightly by finicky stage microphones, combined with the live instrumentation, under Zachary Orts direction, allow this musical to come to life

Red House’s production evokes a similar feel to a late night showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” with the thick theatrical fog and strobe lighting. “Bat Boy: the Musical” is the perfect for the Halloween season.

The Red House Theater opened its bloody new show “Bat Boy: The Musical” Oct. 27 and continues Nov. 2-5. Aside from his newly pointed ears and perfectly spiked mohawk, actor Anton Briones explains why the character of “Bat Boy” is one of his most challenging roles yet. Produced by Dani Villalobos for

clearly we were watching two different shows

I have to wonder what background you have in theater to judge acurately this performance. As a member of actors equity and a performer with 15 years of experience, i saw the show on Saturday night and was completely impressed with this production. I found the ensemble enjoyable, however far too young. There was a clear line between the experienced and the non experienced, those teaching and those learning, however in Bat Boy it worked well. This is a story about the family unit, with the "town" providing support. There were very clear directorial choices made to create a stero-typical "red-neck" world where there is little tolerence for things outside of the norm. Having an inexperienced ensemble helped achieve this rough styling with authenticity. Austin, Haggerty, Carpenter and especially Briones were exceptional. Stand out performances were given by Brian Detlefs (Rick, Preacher, Lorraine) and Krystal Scott (Ron, Mayor Maggie). Stephond Brunson over-acted the role of Mrs. Taylor, making her a drag queen and not a woman. Normally this would not be a compliment, however in the world of batboy this worked perfectly. The opening number was the low point of the show, but one of the very few slip ups. Scene changes were far too lengthy and appeared to be executed with organized chaos. Overall the Choreography did nothing to elevate the performances in this show, but it isn't suppossed to. Bravo to the redhouse for their outstanding production qualities and principle casting choices.

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