Review: ‘Bat Boy: The Musical’ makes for an absurd, but hilarious performance

By Avery Timmons, Copy Editor

Kayla Macedo

From a half-bat, half-boy to fake blood, closed-minded Christian townspeople, romance and humor that will have the audience roaring with laughter, “Bat Boy: The Musical” contains everything one could possibly want in a show.

“Bat Boy” is Columbia Theatre Department’s Mainstage musical this semester and began performances on Dec. 1 at the Courtyard Theatre, located at 72 E. 11th St.

The musical follows Bat Boy in his journey from a feral cave-dweller to a civilized member of society after being taken in by the Parker family — much to the distaste of the rest of the town — and his struggle to fit in while fighting his bat-like desire for blood.

The story starts off in a cave, designed with stalactites reminiscent of fangs. There, a trio of siblings discover Bat Boy — played by sophomore musical theatre major Tyler Ehrenberg — who, after some impressive frog-like leaping around the stage, attacks one of the siblings.

The townspeople are enraged to hear that one of their own has been attacked by this creature, but leave the decision of what to do with him up to the local veterinarian, Dr. Parker, played by senior musical theatre major Sean Sturdivant.

However, the Parker matriarch Meredith, played by senior musical theatre major RileyGrace Abbott, and her daughter Shelley, played by junior musical theatre major Lan Gross-Roberts, take a liking to Bat Boy and teach him how to be civilized. This learning transition is hilariously portrayed in the song “Show You a Thing or Two” that allows Ehrenberg to shine.

“Comfort and Joy” is the closing number of Act 1 and brings the act to a dramatic end with the entire cast on stage illuminated by haunting red lights. The antagonist is also established at the end of this number, leaving the audience anticipating the end of intermission.

The second act contains some major plot twists, a very short-lived romantic subplot featuring a variety of animal puppets and backstory regarding Bat Boy’s conception. The audience may have been unable to guess what could happen next, but one thing is for sure — each event is more funny and more absurd than the previous.

The drama and humor lasted until the final moment of the musical, which is ended by a full-cast reprise of the opening number, “Hold Me, Bat Boy.”

The show was written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe, inspired by a fictional “Weekly World News” article from 1992, where an editor crafted a story about a bat-child being discovered in a cave.

There is not a dull moment in this musical; every cast member gets a moment to shine, as each of the townspeople have a unique personality, which is often stereotypical of small-town Southern farmers and makes room for plenty of laughter.

This is not a family-friendly show, backed by the extensive list of trigger warnings, both provided in the program and announced prior to the show. These include homicide, accidental incest and sexual assault.

For those who enjoy the idea of a comedic horror musical, “Bat Boy” can’t be missed and truly showcases the talents found in Columbia’s Theatre Department.

The run of “Bat Boy: The Musical” will end on Saturday. Tickets are sold out, but for more information contact Columbia’s Theatre Department website.