I went to see the Department of Musical Theater’s performance of “Bat Boy” on Saturday instead of going to the IOWA game. I’m pretty positive I made the right choice.
For those of you who don’t know, this musical is based off the “Weekly World News” Headline “Found in West Virginia Cave – a half boy, half bat!” The writers of this farce Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming couldn’t have asked for a better setting or subject matter. They, along with Music contributions from Laurence O’Keefe, have created their own monster of dark, clever and campy humor, complex plot, cross-dressing Virginians (although, this may have been an artistic choice of the MT director), incest, love, random woodsy scenes…. it goes on.
The music is memorable, the choreography, by director Linda Goodrich, was entertaining and creative. And what can I say about the cast?
Bat Boy – junior Ryan Vasques has a beautiful tenor voice and a phenomenal stage presence. He uses his whole body to express himself, which was important for this role. His development from non-verbal Bat Boy to well educated young man was very believable, which considering the subject matter was an unexpected experience.
Shelly Parker – senior Ashley Park also has a strong voice and held her own on stage with a number of very dominant male characters. Her playful body language was fun and Park knew just how far to push the caricature with out becoming tedious or annoying, which is harder than one might think. Her comfort in her own skin was apparent and definitely helped the strength of her role.
Meridith Parker – senior Jane Bruce has a strength in her that radiates into every corner of the theater. Her voice is full and strong, well developed and matured. She carried the emotional trials of her character very well and held a “No” for an impressively long time! Bruce was very enjoyable to watch on stage. She harmonizes beautifully too!
Dr. Thomas Parker – junior Zachary Thompson. I’ve met Zach once. He told me to go see Bat Boy. I didn’t realize over all what I was about to get myself into nor did I know what to expect from Zach’s performance. Let me tell you that Zachery Thompson is quite the physical actor. I was quite impressed to see what he could do with his body, the wiggles and natural flow that he was able to whip out at will. His comedic timing was unbeatable in this production and he didn’t miss a note. Thompson was also very convincing in his role. He masterfully perpetuated the plot line and seamlessly carried himself through from beginning to end.
Senior Travis Ward-Osborne (Rick Taylor, Lorraine, Mr Dillion) who’s voice and (again) physicality blew me away. Ward-Osborne was close to stealing the show if his fellow leads hadn’t been so overwhelmingly strong.
The ensemble did a very nice job, they were beautifully in synch with each other. Unfortunately senior Jordan Barrow (Mrs. Taylor, Reverend Billy Hightower, Roy) although he had a beautiful voice could not project past his mic. When he was playing the Reverend his voice got lost in the crowd, which was too bad because his performance was otherwise very impressive.
All in all this was a fantastic production, my first experience of the Musical Theater Department at Michigan. The set design was amazing, the lighting not too overwhelming (thank god, there is nothing worse than a bad lighting designer).
The only complaint I really have about the production is the acoustics in the Arthur Miller Theater, the sound wall created by the band sometimes made the voices difficult to hear and the hard boxy walls deadened sound.
So it Goes.
See a Dept of Musical Theater show! They are very talented and worthwhile!