UQ’s student run theatre opened the Brisbane premiere of Bat Boy: The Musical on Friday 30 August at the Schonell Theatre, UQ.
With the book written by Keyth Farley & Brian Flemming (best known for writing Legally Blonde The Musical), and music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe, Bat Boy is a comic-horror tale of a half boy, half bat and the obstacles he faces as he tries to integrate into a small, redneck town in West Virginia. The Bat Boy is taken in and educated by the local veterinarian Dr Parker (Chris Story) his wife Meredith Parker (Arlie McCormick), and daughter Shelley (Alice England). They name him Edgar and educate him (along with several sessions of watching BBC) teach him the finer points of elocution.
But his odd beast-like regression and propensity for blood makes the town folk angry and out for a little blood themselves. Like Edward Scissorhands, the story is about fear of the unknown, group hysteria, forbidden love, tolerance, and acceptance.
Patrick Aiken, who plays the title role showed a good acting range to display the more complex aspects of the bat boy character. Considering he’s studying speech pathology, Aiken was perfectly cast for this role. Arlie McCormick was superb as the loving but torn mother with equally superb vocals, as was Alice England as Shelly.
Director Alex Feifers was able to delicately balance the dark elements with the lighter satirical comic moments of the musical which won the Outer Critics Circle Award for best off-Broadway musical in 2001.
Under the musical direction of Nick Hollamby (and Assistant Musical Direction of Benedict Braxton-Smith), the band’s contemporary rock sound was professional and slick. The audio mix however was not. The Schonell does not have the best reputation for sound but it seemed that the leads were not miked at all and some of the most powerful singers onstage were hardly heard at all from two-thirds at the back of the audience. It was a shame for those singers who were unable to have their impressive voices heard (ie. Joshua Dveta who played Reverend Hightower) but also it meant they had to overwork their voice to compensate for the lack of amplification.
Bat Boy: The Musical is a fun night out with plenty of laughs and an underlying moral and will play at the Schonell Theatre in UQ till 7 September.
Note: Bat Boy: The Musical contains many dark themes and is not recommended for audiences under 15 years. The show also contains many strobe light effects, loud sound effects and loud music.