In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of Bat Boy:The Musical at 1st Stage, meet Maria Rizzo.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they might have seen you on the stage before.
Maria: My name’s Maria Rizzo. I play Shelley in Bat Boy. This past year I was seen playing Gypsy Rose Lee in Signature’s production of Gypsy, Brianna in Spin (a world premiere) also at Signature, at Sally Bowles in Cabaret at The Keegan Theatre.
What did you sing at your audition?
I auditioned after an email inquiry to come be seen at 1stStage. A lot of my friends were auditioning, thought I’d give it a go. I wasn’t too familiar with the piece. I sang “Screw Loose” – a quirky tune about loosing your mind from the show Cry Baby.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character? What do you admire about her?
Shelley Parker is a naive teenager, daughter to Meredith and Dr. Parker who take the Bat Boy into their home. Shelley is much more wholesome than I believe she thinks she is. She’s stubborn and a bit bratty but also completely open hearted. Most of all, Shelley is easily excitable which I can relate to. Shelley believes in Edgar and his equality which I admire and hope to emulate
Have you worked with any of your castmates before?
Jimmy (Edgar) and I attended Catholic University together. One year apart. We were in Urinetown in 2009 at CUA. A show very similar to Bat Boy stylistically. (very satirical). Jimmy and I played Tiny Tom and Little Becky Two Shoes.
Which character in the show is most like you and the least like you and why?
Edgar is the Bat Boy which clearly is a fictitious person but I find myself relating most to him. I think so many people can relate as well which is maybe why this show has a colt following. Edgar just wants a home and to know where he belongs. I think especially as an actor I can relate to the desire to feel apart of something and to try and do something great.
I think I am least like Mrs. Taylor, the townswoman who says what she pleases when she pleases and all the while with a pack of Malboro’s kept safe in her cleavage. Although I’d like to be as strong willed and witty as she is…I just don’t have the gumption.
Tell me about the solo/duet you sing and what we learn about your characters when you sing the song.
It isn’t until Act 2 when Shelley and Edgar sing “Inside Your Heart” where you can clearly see Shelley in a new light. She’s selfless and passionate not the bratty and awkward adolescent you saw for most of Act 1.
What do you admire most about your castmates performances?
They’re all so wonderful and work so hard but it has been a special pleasure watching Jimmy with this character. He brings so much heart to the show and has so much natural lovability. I’m proud to be doing this with him.
What amazes you about the show’s design and how does it help tell the story?
From an actor’s perspective with the all black set and the blackouts and the raked stage and the platforms… our set is the hunger games! Its a jungle maze. It looks so incredible and bold, and edgy (literally.) I wear my bruises proudly. It aids so much to the energy of the show. It really is amazing.
What is your favorite song that you don’t sing in the show and why?
I love when Jimmy sings “Let Me Walk Among You” in Act 2. I get to watch it on stage and it’s my favorite part of the show. He does a beautiful job.
What is the best advice Director Steven Royal has given you in preparing for your performance?
He said, “think John Waters.” It really just gave me the permission I wanted to hear to be as satirical as I could with Shelley but with that, 100% honest. My character believes in everything she says whole-heartedly, no matter how ridiculous is looks or sounds to the audience (or to myself).
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Bat Boy?
With all of the show’s quirks, oddities, and all around camp, the show also deals with themes of rasicsm and forgiveness. When it deals with important issues like this, I’ve learned as an actor, no matter how much camp there is in the show – its important to tell the story. I hope people walk away knowing that this play is indeed a comedy and that it’s MORE than okay to laugh along with us, but to drive away remembering that acceptance and equality are important values to give to every type of person.
I hope everyone will have as much fun as we are!
‘Comfort and Joy’: Appearing in 1st Stage’s ‘Bat Boy:The Musical’:Part 1: Farrell Parker.
‘Comfort and Joy’: Appearing in 1st Stage’s ‘Bat Boy:The Musical’: Part 2: Jimmy Mavrikes.
Review of Bat Boy: The Musical by Keith Tittermary on DCMetroTheaterArts.