The cast of Off-Broadway's Bat Boy flaps into HMV Records at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan 5:30 PM Oct. 31, offering a performance and vouchers for $25 tickets good for Halloween night only.
The first 100 guests will receive a voucher for same-night discounted admission to the darkly comic musical at the Union Square Theatre.
Off-Broadway's Bat Boy hibernated Sept. 23-Oct. 17 but flew back into the Union Square Theatre Oct. 18 for a special night that welcomed the resumption of five performances a week that play 8 PM Fridays and Saturdays, 3 PM and 7:30 PM Sundays, and 8 PM Mondays.
The cult musical comedy about a creature who is part boy and part bat took the nearly 24-day break to weather the period of theatregoer anxiety following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Ticket sales continued during the hiatus, and the most recent Off-Broadway cast is returning to the show, which is "bat by popular demand," according to ads. The daffy, rock-and-pop-driven show, in the style of Little Shop of Horrors, was struggling for audiences after the jet plane attacks on the World Trade Center. The time off gave potential theatregoers a chance to catch their breath in the wake of the national tragedy.
Donning pointy ears and gray-green pancake makeup, Deven May repeats the title Bat Boy role he created in 1997 for The Actors' Gang in Los Angeles. He took home an Ovation Award and a Drama-Logue Award for his work and has been involved in subsequent Bat Boy readings and workshops. Kaitlin Hopkins plays Meredith, the Bat Boy's mother figure (whose daughter, Shelley, becomes a love interest for the creature). Hopkins created the role in L.A. The company includes Sean McCourt (Titanic, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues), Kerry Butler (Les Miserables, Blood Brothers) as Shelley, Kathy Brier, Charles Gray, Daria Hardeman, Trent Armand Kendall (The Wizard of Oz), Leslie Kritzer, J.P. Potter, Jim Price, Richard Pruitt and Doug Storm.
Bat Boy, which flapped its way through a West Coast staging and several developmental readings over the past few years, has been hanging out — as bats do — at Off Broadway's Union Square Theatre since March 3. Its full wingspan was seen March 21, when it opened to shrieks — and cries of laughter.
The musical focuses on the tabloid-drawn tale of a half-boy, half-bat who struggles with his thirst for blood and feelings of self and love, in the hills of West Virginia. He becomes involved with a local family headed by a veterinarian. The story of the grotesque Bat Boy boosted sales of the Weekly World News, the supermarket tabloid that has also reported about Elvis being alive and U.S. presidents playing golf with aliens.
Scott Schwartz (Jane Eyre) directs the offbeat tuner by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming (story and book), with music and lyrics by Lawrence O'Keefe, who recently won a 2001 Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award. Songs in the show include "Hold Me, Bat Boy," "Ugly Boy," "More Blood," "Apology to a Cow," "A Joyful Noise," "Comfort and Joy," "Christian Charity," "Let Me Walk Among You."
Producers are Nancy Nagel Gibbs, RIOT Entertainment, Robyn Goodman, Jean Doumanian and The Producing Office. The piece underwent some scene changes and book tweaks during its Off-Broadway previews.
"I heard about it through the grapevine," said Goodman, one of the producers. "I asked if I could get involved they sent me a CD. Within 20 minutes I said, 'I have to do this show!' I fell in love with the music. I hadn't heard anything so fresh and witty and original. Then I read the book and it made me roar and I found it very moving. Deven May is a star, in my opinion. He really is the one who makes it all work — along with director Scott Schwartz. His performance is magical."
The musical, punctuated with rock 'n' roll and gospel, won the 1999 Richard Rodgers Development Award for staged readings. A reading was held in October 1999, as well.
In summer 2000, Schwartz said the 10-actor, July 17-Aug. 5 workshop and presentations had a dual purpose: To seek backers, but also "to experiment with staging concepts and rewrites."
Schwartz told Playbill On-Line, "The tone is dark comedy. It's very high camp, but the actors play the show quite seriously. It's wild, and rock and roll and very edgy."
Composer O'Keefe began composing at Harvard for Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He has written music and lyrics for Euphoria and The Imaginary Invalid at The Actors' Gang and arranged dance music for Disney's "Geppetto." He also composed music to The Mice, a one act musical that is one-third of a trio of tuners under the umbrella title, 3hree.
Bat Boy tickets are $35-$55. The Union Square Theatre is at 100 E. 17th Street in Manhattan. For tickets, call (212) 307-4100. Visit the website at www.batboy themusical.com.
Bat Boy won the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Off Broadway Musical.
— By Kenneth Jones