“Bat Boy: The Musical” Is the Best Kind of Beastly
Written by Bwog Staff
Last night Sarah Camiscoli attended Bat Boy along with a mob of eager Columbia students that filled Lerner Black Box to the rim. Thankfully, several poor souls abandoned their spots on opening night, offering Bwog a spot in the audience to review the sold out show.
“The way of sin is death, sweetheart,” preaches Jill Shackner, as elf-eared and vampire-fanged Bat Boy Ricky Schweitzer springs into her quaint three-bedroom house. With a brilliant production team and the return of the performing talent of last year’s Varsity Show, the “virgin territory”—as coined by director Nina Pedrad—of this student run production was more than a success. Despite what Nina may claim, it seemed apparent that the cast and production team had been around the block as the cast opened the show with a riveting performance of “Hold Me, Bat Boy.” Before reaching the confines of Lerner Black Box, Bat Boy began as the story of a half-boy, half-bat discovered in cave published on the a 1992 cover of Weekly World News. Soon after, there was a book written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, a musical composed, and thus, the sin of the “Bat Boy” was born.
Set in the farm country of the Deep South that just can’t be “rid of Christian charity,” Bat Boy, cleverly points to the triviality of town elections, the oppressiveness of religious authority, and the overwhelming popularity of cowboy boots. Ricky Schweitzer, Bat Boy or, as Meredith Taylor calls him, “Edgar”, brilliantly unveils the misery of a dysfunctional marriage, the triteness of small town south, and the simplicity of “any twit” receiving a Columbia degree as he evolves from a primitive birdlike creature into a stand up religious man who comes to understand the existential significance of a navel. In the same vein, Remy Zaken, as Bat Boy’s secretly incestuous sister Shelley, enthralled students as she, Jill Shackner, and the live orchestra directed by Evan Johnston revealed the need for a bigger box to accommodate their musical talent in “A Three Bedroom House.”
In addition to strong individual performances, scenes such as “A Joyful Noise” in which Brooks Morelock imbued the audience with the Holy Ghost and “Let Me Walk Among You” in which Bat Boy begs to “let me join your carpool,” place the Creative Team for this year’s Varsity Show in a tough position as the choreography, vocals, and acting were beyond impressive. Still though, it would do the show injustice not to mention the scandalous yet brilliant scene of sodomy in “Children, Children” as Yonatan Gebeyehu tickled the audience as he “erased the sin of man” donning an absurdly large feather and surrounded with cross-dressed critters fornicating through creative choreography. Closing with a touching scene of love, rape, incest, and murder, Bat Boy unveils the latent and blatant dysfunction of small-town America.
Of course, Columbia welcomed the social commentary as it would Bob Saget, but more than anything seemed to thoroughly enjoy the entertainment of highly talented and seriously devoted peers. But, I’ll defer to Nina as she defers to Oscar Wilde to say that Bat Boy was in fact, “ too important to be taken seriously.” So perhaps we should applaud the sheer talent, dedication, and the ability to evoke Columbia’s “beast side” for a good laugh at societal dysfunction that can so often elude the Columbia campus.