From tabloid folk tale to cult musical, thus is the story of Batboy. It’s the story of one of society’s outcasts just trying to fit in. Something we can all relate to. At least that’s the theory. Having opened yesterday at the Gladstone and running until February 2nd, Black Sheep Theatre puts that theory to the test.
Should you see it?
Batboy: The Musical falls in that genre of musical that includes the likes of Rocky Horror and Repo: The Genetic Opera. The plain truth of it is that if you’re a fan of the deep cult rock opera then nothing I say from here on will turn you away from this show. If you’re not a fan, nothing I say will convince you you should see it. If you’re somewhere in the middle, well, I’ve got another four hundred words to help you decide.
Torn from the pages of the Weekly World News, Batboy: The Musical is about Batboy, a part-human part-bat boy found living feral in a cave and brought into society where a helpful Christian family works to integrate him into society. (For all y’all too old to know the character from the Weekly World News, imagine Gollum. Same deal.)
To start on the positive, I think all the pieces in play were fine in Black Sheep Theatre’s production. There was nothing and nobody who was outstanding but equally nothing that felt too false in the context of the often over the top, nonsensical, and melodramatic show.
That said, Tim Oberholzer deserves a nod as the sheriff. We’ve given him praise here before for both singing and acting and he didn’t disappoint this time despite a fairly minor role. Kris Joseph did a good job as one of the few leads who actually felt like he had a part in the story – at least in the first act – and was great on stage as a Satyr in an unrelated number in the second that esploded my WTF-scale.
And Zach Counsil makes for a good Batboy if you can get over the fact that he’s very healthy for a boy described repeatedly in the show as being skin and bones and vastly underfed.
The major problem is that the score was ‘eh’ at best and the story/content was complete rubbish. For a story that is supposedly about an alienated boy trying to gain acceptance in the community, I think there’s only one real scene where that’s actually a thing. ‘Til then it’s all build up. Random stuff happening in the town. Batboy becoming “civilized.” The only semblance of story was in Kris Joseph’s character, as a man trying to win back the affections of his wife. That’s the first act which, like the pieces, was “eh, okay,” but the second act completely devolves into a state of absolutely random nonsense and way-too-long exposition that had me checked out and ready to leave twenty minutes before the curtain call.
Given the shortcomings of the material, the only failing of Black Sheep in the context of the production they were mounting is that they didn’t go nearly far enough. Where were the sprays of blood in the multiple stabbings? Where was the gratuitous violence or perhaps nudity? This was a PG version of a production that should have been a hard R to make up for what was a rubbish story.
Batboy: The Musical runs at The Gladstone now until February 3rd. Check out our preview for all the details.
What did you think? Was there anything that really blew you away about Batboy? Am I way off base in my summary? Join the discussion in the comments below.