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'Bat Boy' Promises New Surprises

By Bridget R Irvine, Contributing Writer

We’re not talking baseball here. “Bat Boy: The Musical” is the wild story of a hero—half-bat, half-boy—who wishes to be accepted by his family and community. But it’s not easy being a mutant. The fast-paced musical poses questions about acceptance and love while walking the fine line between camp and drama.

This production isn’t working with the original book; instead, they have worked hands-on with the original writers in an incredible opportunity to revise the script. Funded by the Office of the Arts, composer and lyricist Laurence O'Keefe ’91 and book writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming flew into Cambridge to hold workshops with the cast and staff. “The rewrites make the audience feel much closer to Bat Boy immediately,” director Alexandra M. Kiley ’15 says. “He has quite a personality that comes through a lot better in this version.”

The 10-person cast, needless to say, is thrilled to be part of the production. They emphasize their genuine enthusiasm for the characters and story due to the relevance of the show’s themes—despite his mutant identity, Bat Boy’s struggles ring true with the social problems of an undergrad. “He’s one of the most earnest characters onstage, but he just is really strange, so his earnestness comes off in very weird ways,” Jacob D. Rienstra ’17 (who plays Bat Boy) says. “As weird of a character as he is, he’s actually very relatable because he wants to fit in, he wants to be accepted, he wants to be friends with people—and that’s what everybody wants.”

The music, also partially reworked by O’Keefe, will be performed by a five-piece band featuring keyboard, bass guitar, guitar, and drums. “I think music just conveys so much,” Kiley says. “The reason why I love musicals is there’s nothing more evocative than someone singing to you. I think Larry does a great job of writing the music that needs to be written as opposed to a style that he’s predetermined.”

Tess V. Davison ’16, playing Shelley (Bat Boy’s love interest), is supportive of the changes in her characterization. “I think that the changes in the script have really changed Shelley’s relationship with Bat Boy a lot,” Davison says. “You see their interactions developing. It feels more realistic.” She also agreed that the opportunity to work with the original writers infused the show with new energy.

The fresh facets of this production allows audiences to see the musical in a way they have never seen it before. As Kiley says, “Once you think the show can’t get any weirder, it does.”

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