Bat Boy: The Musical

Billed as a uniquely grotesque combination of satire, horror and comedy, Bat Boy: The Musical has a small but dedicated cult following. Performed by Ophiuchus Rising, the semi-professional cast effortlessly made sense of the bizarre and risqué storyline. Based on a mysterious bat-like creature which was found in a cave and given to the Parker family for safekeeping, the plot follows the fictitious town of Hope Falls in West Virginia as they navigate their way through accepting this outcast into a previously closed and prejudiced society of a few decades ago.

A well-polished performance all round, Bat Boy will have you dangling from the rafters with love at first bite.

Utilising every inch of the stage and seating, the seventeen-strong ensemble seamlessly transitioned between flashy numbers and more intimate renditions, achieving a most varied and interesting production. Ava Chenok as Meredith Parker in particular gave a stellar portrayal, adding well-timed elements of humour into her frequent (and often tricky) songs.

At first I felt that the musical was a little too mature for the company, comprised predominantly of young teenagers. With sexual elements, murder and incest I winced at a few of the jokes when they came from the mouths of such young performers, but I soon eased into it upon the strong and convincing command the cast had over the piece. Smutty moments of dialogue were delivered with conviction and purpose and soon even the leather-strap costume of well-meaning but easily influenced Sheriff Reynolds, played exceptionally convincingly by Connor Johnson, became nothing more than a well-integrated part of the show.

Though the cast was well-polished and projected clearly during dialogue, I did feel that perhaps they should consider using microphones. Shirley Bassey would struggle to compete with a four-piece band, and it would mean that individual lines within songs would not be drowned out so much, complementing the performance even further. Bat Boy Nikolai Granados would certainly have benefitted from a microphone. He had the difficult job of singing through fangs; not the most convenient for strong projection. On this note, I was most impressed by Lily James’ Reverend Billy Hightower, whose bluesy gospel chords of the church sermon comfortably overcame instrumental noise and surpassed expectation.

A well-polished performance all round, Bat Boy will have you dangling from the rafters with love at first bite.

Reviews by Matthew Sedman

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Straight off the cover of the Weekly World News, Bat Boy: The Musical is a comedy/horror musical about half-boy, half-bat Edgar, who is found in a cave near Hope Falls, USA. After he's brought to town, the outsider is ridiculed and ostracised from the society he's trying hard to be a part of. With a beat-driven rock score that pays homage to late 60s and early 70s rock musicals, Bat Boy provides a compelling theatrical metaphor for the dangers of prejudice and provincialism, shedding light on an American region that voted overwhelmingly for Trump.