I was elated after watching Prince William Little Theatre’s Bat Boy: The Musical at Hylton Performing Arts Center.
With story and book written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe, and directed by Lanny Warketien, Bat Boy: The Musical begins with three siblings rappelling into a deep, shadowy cave only to find a deformed boy with a face resembling a bat. The siblings capture the boy but with Ruthie, the sister (played excellently by Madalyn Farmer), being bitten ferociously on the leg. With that powerful scene, the cast comes on with “Hold Me, Bat Boy,” a strong, sympathetic song that made me want to “love my bat boy,” too.
Bat Boy (who most of the town calls him) or Edgar, who is played with overflowing emotion by Eric Verchot-Ware, is then taken in by the Parker family with Shawn Cox, as Dr. Thomas Parker, who oozes with villainy, Ariel Friendly with her angelic voice as daughter Shelley Parker, and Danica Shook, as an extremely spunky Meredith Parker. The family gradually gets to know Bat Boy with Meredith’s emotional and humorous “A Home For You” until they finally break through and help him become an educated and polite citizen with “Show You a Thing or Two.”
Despite being educated, however, the townspeople still will not accept Bat Boy and want him dead as shown in “Comfort and Joy” with the entire cast sharing their displeasures of Bat Boy’s presence and his own heartfelt struggle with being accepted.
The shows goes on at this turning point to describe the struggles of Bat Boy’s acceptance into the town and the townspeople’s rejection of him. I won’t spoil anymore of the plot, but I will praise the cast, and specifically Reverend Hightower (played by Aaron Verchot-Ware) for an uplifting and uproarious hilarious performance of “A Joyful Noise.”
After the song, Rick Taylor (played by Ahmad Maaty) comes back to the spotlight with a tense and entertaining rap as he shows the gangsta in his character. After this anxious scene, the story takes some horrible turns (yet still adds plenty of humor, especially from Alex Gordon’s hilarious Daisy), culminating with Verchot-Ware’s show-stopping “Apology to a Cow.”
Of course, the show would not be nearly as amazing without the magnificent orchestra musically directed by Sarah Jane Scott. The music was astounding and the orchestra deserves just as much applause as the cast and crew. Every not enhanced each emotion and made it so much more powerful.
The crew, of course, also deserves plenty of praise. Lanny Warketien lighting of the set (and operated by Lynn Hill) was absolutely breathtaking. The colors complimented the feelings of the characters and, combined with the orchestra, gave the scenes so much more significance. The use of darkness especially gave a sense of fear and mystery. The sound team operated by Kendall Aleshire, also did a wonderful job enhancing the projection of the performers and the orchestra.
The special effects, designed by Kurt Gustafson, added to the bloody fun of the experience. The house had an actual “splatter zone” where the audience would be hit with blood from the performance; and boy was there a lot of blood!
Prince William Little Theatre’s exceptional production of Bat Boy: The Musical is a winner! Fly over to Hylton Performing Arts Center and you might see me in the “splatter Zone” when I come back to see this amazing show again.
Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.
Bat Boy: The Musical plays through October 30, 2016 at Prince William Little Theatre performing at Hylton Performing Arts Center – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, VA. For tickets, purchase them at the box office, or online.