There will be blood in Oxford this weekend. Thursday through Saturday, Miami’s student-run theater company Stage Left will perform Bat Boy the musical at Leonard Theatre in Peabody Hall.
Miami sophomore and Stage Left member Kelly DiTurno plays the female lead role of Shelley Parker, Bat Boy’s eventual love interest. She gave Amusement this synopsis:
“It’s a rock musical (think RENT or The Rocky Horror Picture Show (TRHPS)) based on a popular Weekly World News article from the early 1990’s about a half-boy, half-bat found in a cave. It’s a disturbing yet heartwarming tragicomedy that really has all the shock value of Snakes On A Plane (blood, violence, sex, nudity, melodrama), but also tries to leave its audience with the warning not to ‘deny the beast inside’ of them if they don’t wish to suffer Bat Boy’s tragic fate.”
And, oh yeah, he drinks blood.
In the early 90s, Bat Boy was a public sensation. To this day, fictional stories continue to surface in the tabloid on Bat Boy’s whereabouts.
Bat Boy the musical first premiered on Halloween in 1997. Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming wrote the off-Broadway stage adaptation, with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe. According to DiTurno, the Stage Left version closely follows this original.
In the musical, the setting is Hope Falls, W.V., population 500. Though set in present day, the narrow-minded townspeople are still behind the times.
Miami senior and four-year Stage Left member Jessica Barrett plays two characters in the show -“Chastity” the townswoman and “Pan” the forest goddess. She said the townspeople find Bat Boy living in a cave and bring him to town.
“They all see him as a beast because he’s different,” Barrett said.
Barrett said Bat Boy’s storyline reminded her of Edward Scissorhands. Both feature weird kids who work to win people over, only to be turned on once again.
She also agreed with DiTurno’s comparison of Bat Boy to TRHPS-the first musical Barrett performed in with Stage Left as a first year student.
“The music is very similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” she said. “It’s very rock-Broadway.”
Besides music, the two shows share outrageous subject matter and at-times scandalous scenes. Barrett’s parents were a little shocked, but impressed with Stage Left’s rendition of TRHPS three years ago.
“I can see your ass,” Barrett’s father told her after the performance.
Barrett expects Bat Boy’s audience to be similarly surprised.
“We use lots of fake blood, because that’s how Bat Boy lives-he drinks blood,” she said. “It’s what he does when he’s feeling down.”
Scott Wiley-director of Bat Boy, Stage Left president and Miami junior-made sure to sensationalize the show.
“There’s a big sex scene, but it’s not racy by any means,” he said. “We kind of like to keep it fun and inappropriate.”
Wiley said he chose the show for its outlandishness and underground appeal.
“This show’s really become a kind of cult classic,” he said. “If you say Bat Boy to theater people, they freak out.”
Besides that, Wiley said Bat Boy fits the college atmosphere. He said its message is one especially important for Miami students to learn.
“It’s basically about acceptance,” Wiley said. “We can all judge each other hypocritically, but when it comes down to it we should take a look in a mirror before we start judging.”
Barrett echoed Wiley’s sentiments.
“In the show you come to find out we each have our own differences and we shouldn’t be ashamed of them,” she said. “In Hope Falls for instance, everybody looks the same, but they all have different interests. Of all places I think this is relevant to Miami.”
As for Bat Boy’s “tragic fate,” Barrett would only say it has a twisted ending. You’ll have to see the show to find out for yourself.
Student tickets cost $5 and can be purchased at Shriver Box Office or at the door. The show begins each night at 8 p.m. and runs 1 hour and 45 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.
About Stage Left
For Stage Left, this weekend is a culmination of a semester-long effort. Auditions for Bat Boy began 2 months ago. Students began meeting one week after that for rehearsals three to four times per week.
For Wiley, this time has flown by.
“(Directing) is kind of a lot to do but it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done with my life.”
Like most Stage Left members, Wiley isn’t a theater major. Neither are DiTurno, psychology, or Barnett, microbiology. By Wiley’s count, only two out of the 16 cast members are theater majors.
Majoring in mass communications by day; the 6-foot, 9-inch Wiley pursues his theater passion by night, acting in musicals ever since junior high. Since joining Stage Left in spring 2007, Wiley has acted in their last 3 shows (Blood Brothers, Wild Party and Tick Tick Boom).
“We all love theater, so Stage Left is a nice way to get involved without it taking over our lives,” Wiley said.
The group puts on one show per semester, and is funded by Miami’s Associated Student Government (ASG). As director, Wiley had to meet with ASG and come up with a budget.
With Stage Left’s Web site production on hold until after Bat Boy, for more information on the group, search “Stage Left” under “Blackboard Organizations” on myMiami.