BAT BOY - THE MUSICALStory and Book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe
Licensed Under Agreement with Weekly World News
Outcry Theatre Company
Director - Becca Johnson-Spinos
Music Director – Marina Pogosyan
Stage Manager – Rachel Svatos
Scenic Designer – Bradley Gray
Costume/Puppet Designer – Gabrielle Gafarth
Lighting Designer – Jimilee Rempe
Projection/Sound Designer – Jason Johnson-Spinos
Bat Boy – Andy Stratton
Shelley Parker – Caitlin Kresta
Meredith Parker - Jenna Caire
Dr. Thomas Parker – Jason Johnson-Spinos
Sheriff Reynolds – Quinn Angel
Rick Taylor/Lorraine/Mr. Dillon - Logan Beutel
Ron Taylor/Pan – Bryce Lederer
Ruthie Taylor/Maggie – Courtney Mentzel
Mrs. Taylor/Roy/Clem – Ellen Eberhardt
Rev. Billy Hightower/Ned/Institute Man – Gustavo Perez Diaz
Bud/Daisy/Doctor – Ian Lawson
Keyboard – Marina Pogosyan
Guitar – Jason Bucklin
Bass – Brianne Sargent
Drums – Chris Holmes
Reviewed Performance: 10/7/2017
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
“The mission of Outcry Theatre is to draw youth and young adults to the theatre as both audience and participants. Outcry Theatre utilizes bold artistic vision, highly physical staging, and an energetic and visceral performance style. With rigorous rehearsals, tenacious attention to detail, and unwavering dedication to excellence, Outcry Theatre focuses on developing stellar performances and exceptional storytelling.”
I begin with the mission statement of Outcry Theatre because I could not come up with better words to describe the performance my wife and I saw on Friday night. In terms of pure energy and commitment, this production of “Bat Boy-The Musical” will be a show I will remember for a long time. I thank the cast, the crew, and the band for their complete dedication in telling a compelling story and for providing a wonderful night’s entertainment. I must say, “mission accomplished”.
As for the play, I have heard of it but have not had the chance to see it until now. But I am quite familiar with the bat boy and, over the years, have become a fan. Bat Boy is a creation of the World Weekly News, one of the tabloids that populated the magazine racks by the grocery store cashier for decades. The tabloid had an ongoing cast of characters including The World’s Fattest Man, The World’s Fattest Woman, the World’s Fattest Cat and many others. The Bat Boy was one of the most enduring and endearing. Discovered in Hell Hole cave in West Virginia, Bat Boy is constantly being captured and then escapes in dramatic fashion. After 9/11, Bat Boy displayed his patriotism by going to Iraq, and allowed his powers to be studied to help in the fight against terrorism. This material is perfect for an over-the -top musical.
And what we get is exactly that-a tabloid driven narrative told with wonderful energy by the cast assembled by director Becca Johnson-Spinos. I won’t spend too much time with the plot. I’m afraid I would give away some the theatrical surprises the script and the actors have in store for you. But it all boils down to-a feral bat boy is discovered in a West Virginia cave by three stoners (and bites one of them), is brutally brought to the local veterinarian to be put down, instead is adopted and civilized by the veterinarian’s family, the community objects and chaos ensues. To be compelling and not only silly, a cast must believe fully in the fantastical material and the cast of “Bat Boy” believes completely.
The set is a series of metal scaffolds with dark painted sliding curtains (designed by Bradley Grey), giving the proper ominous feel to the proceedings. It also allows scene changes to happen quickly with very few set pieces, keeping the energy of the play from flagging. The lights (designed by Jimilee Rempe) give us dark and brooding when the bat boy is first discovered to full up when the bat boy is civilized and faces the harshness of reality. And all this is propelled by the band, directed by Marina Pogosyan, leading us into the ominous and hilarious world of the play.
Many of the actors are extremely strong but I must begin with Andy Stratton’s performance as the bat boy. Moving from a feral and frightened creature in captivity to a civilized creature excited to meet the outside world and ultimately overwhelmed its harshness, Mr. Stratton delivers a performance unlike any I have seen in a long time. He flits about in the beginning, running around and coming out with unearthly sounds that should have ripped his vocal cords out in the first five minutes, and is able to sustain this through most of the first act. And then, he becomes a sensitive, British-accented (BBC tapes were used for language lessons) creature wanting to be human and be loved and accepted. Andy Stratton breaks your heart. Mr. Stratton is a senior in high school. If he sticks with acting in the future, I imagine we’ll be seeing him a lot in plays and movies. And, being young, I imagine he doesn’t collapse in a heap after every performance, but with the commitment he puts into the part, he should.
The Parkers are the family who takes in the bat boy and civilizes him. Meredith Parker (played by Jenna Caire) is the mother of the family and wants to care for the creature as if it were her own. Ms. Caire gives us a character longing for the love she lost in her own life and sees a chance to regain it in the bat boy. It is a gentle, aching portrayal that will stay in your heart a long while. Mr. Parker (Jason Johnson-Spinos), on the other hand, is a pragmatic veterinarian, wanting to put the creature down instead trying to heal it. Rarely have I seen a character on stage which made me feel so uncomfortable. Jason Johnson-Spinos shows the duplicity behind every decision this character makes. And yet there is a longing for something more in this character too and Mr. Johnson-Spinos shows us that as well. The daughter Shelley Parker is played by Caitlin Kresta and give the character the proper teen-aged moodiness necessary for the beginning of the show. Ms. Kresta ably show us the gradual melting of the character as her feelings begin to deepen for the creature. Her performance, like the rest of the cast, reflects total commitment to the material.
Mention must also be made to Quinn Angel as Sheriff Reynolds, the morally wobbly voice of reason in the play. He clearly shows the dilemma of trying to do what is right while also trying to fulfill the wishes of the community. Also, Gustavo Perez Diaz must be noted for his powerful singing and a gloriously funny healing scene as the flamboyant Reverend Billy Hightower. The rest of the cast plays various other characters and sometimes plays them simultaneously to hilarious effect. For some of the cast, more training on vocal technique will prove helpful (some of the songs were screamed out, rendering the lyrics unintelligible) for both the clarity of the singing and the health of their voices. As I said several times, the energy and commitment to the material made for a very entertaining and touching performance.
The cast is a combination of veteran actors and high school students. There is very little difference in the performance quality. And to produce a piece as wildly over-the -top as “Bat Boy-The Musical” and come up with a show that is uproariously funny without squelching the emotional message of acceptance the material conveys shows a great amount of care and competency on the part of the people involved. Such commitment and talent deserve an audience. So, get a ticket, call a friend and get on over to the Addison Theatre Centre Studio Theatre for one of the final four performances this weekend.
And don’t forget the name of the company, Outcry Theatre. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Addison Theatre Centre Studio Theatre
15650 Addison Rd, Addison, TX 75001
Friday October 13 – 7:30pm
Saturday October 14 – 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Sunday October 15 – 2:00pm
Tickets available at the door or at