ATTACK OF THE BAT BOY

Bats have always had their place in rock and roll. Remember that poor unfortunate winged rat that jumped on stage with Ozzy Osbourne? Prince even had the Batdance. But “Bat Boy: The Musical” marks the first time in recent memory that the bat was the one making the music.

This off-Broadway production tells the story of tabloid sensation Bat Boy (Patrick O’Neill) and what happens when he is thrust from his darkened cave into rural Hope Falls, W.Va.

Ending up at the home of local veterinarian Dr. Parker (Buzz Mauro), Bat Boy is met initially with apprehension. But it doesn’t take long for Bat Boy, or “Edgar,” as he is named, to be lovingly accepted by the doctor’s wife, Meredith (Lauri Kraft), and their daughter, Shelly (Tara Giordano). With doting affection, the Parkers see Edgar transform into an intelligent, well-dressed and well-spoken young “man.” The rest of the traditional farming town, however, is not so ready to accept Edgar or his newfound British accent.

This rock opera comes off as the perfect slap in the face to all of the posh Broadway productions. Taking pot shots at such shows as “Cats,” “Rent” and even “Phantom of the Opera,” “Bat Boy” is an amusingly irreverent musical that never takes itself seriously.

The music itself is good, with a few standout tunes. The more impressive aspect of the show is the humor. Wholly original in one light, yet camp-ily cliched in another, the script is laugh-out-loud funny and ultimately touching.

The cast is more than impressive. O’Neill’s portrayal of Bat Boy is dead on, from his creepy squawks to his bat-like body contortions.

Giordano’s performance as the radiant and youthful Shelly is very powerful. She has a wide-eyed innocence about her that begs either to be nurtured or corrupted by her romance with Edgar.

Kraft’s Meredith is notable as well. Her portrayal of the June Cleaver-like matriarch is both lovingly warm and at times frigidly distant. But perhaps the most impressive performance in the show is Mauro’s Dr. Parker. This long-tortured man is played with a simultaneous air of tragedy and a sense of humor that is unrivaled.

“Bat Boy” has all the makings of a fairy tale romance, albeit between a woman and a bat. Its originality and off beat humor makes it well worth a visit.

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