Saturday, September 24, 2011

Musical Spotlight: Bat Boy

The musical in the spotlight this time around: Bat Boy: The Musical, since posting the finale last blog got me thinking about it.

Music and lyrics for this show are by by Laurence O'Keefe, who later went on to do the musical adaptation of Legally Blonde (which I also love and will probably be featured on here at some point). It's based on the 1992 Weekly World News story about a half-boy, half-bat creature found in a cave. The show has very dark themes but tackles them all in a very silly, tongue-in-cheek manner. I haven't gotten to see this one live yet, but I love the music and the story and have seen a ridiculous amount of clips from it.

So! In the order they appear in the show, here are a couple of my favorite songs from Bat Boy. All the videos embedded are just the music, no video included, and they're all from the London cast because it was what I could find on YouTube. (I have the original off-Broadway cast myself and love it, but both are pretty good.)

1. Hold Me, Bat Boy
This song opens the show and sets up the scene for the rest of the musical, talking about the Bat Boy found in a cave and all the ways he was mistreated. It even nicely provides us with a moral: "Listen to his ungodly shriek, / Watch what they put him through. / Heed the tale of a filthy freak / Who's just like you!" This song, like many of the songs in the musical, is very silly although it claims to be profound and life-changing. I enjoy how seriously all these singers appear to be taking the tale of the Bat Boy.

2. Show You a Thing or Two
A bit later in the show, Bat Boy (now named Edgar) has been adopted by the local veterinarian and his wife and his daughter. In this song, the veterinarian's wife, Meredith, manages to teach Edgar now only how to speak, but also social norms and etiquette. It's a jaunty little tune that is really fun to sing along to, but I'm not even close to knowing all the lyrics to this one.

3. Comfort and Joy
This one is my favorite from the show, but is hard to explain, plotwise. There are several things going on here, but the main ones are: 1) the vet, Dr. Parker, has decided to destroy Edgar in an attempt to win back his wife's attention, and 2) there is a town revival meeting coming up, and Meredith and her daughter, Shelley, are taking Edgar. All the different people involved in these things sing together about how they're trying to find... well, comfort and joy. I'm a sucker for counterpoint, so I love the moments when all the different characters are singing about all the things they want.

4. Let Me Walk Among You
At the revival, Edgar earnestly pleads for the townspeople to accept him, despite his appearance. Musically, this is a really pretty song, but the lyrics don't ever let it get too serious ("Let me file your taxes. I am a CPA! / And maybe then you'll shake my hand someday"). The song ends awkwardly because it's interrupted by another song.

5. Three Bedroom House
This was the first song I ever heard from Bat Boy, and it was the one that made me want to find the rest of the show. Meredith has decided to take Shelley and Edgar and run away from her husband, so here Meredith and Shelley plan their escape and their lives all together afterward. During the song, Shelley reveals that she's falling in love with Edgar, which terrifies Meredith because (as we will learn later in the show - spoilers) Meredith is actually Edgar's mother, so Edgar and Shelley are brother and sister.

Bat Boy's an odd little musical, but it's a good one, with a dark, bizarre story and some really entertaining songs. It was also the first show where I heard Kerry Butler, who plays Shelley in the off-Broadway cast and has become one of my favorite musical theater people.

If you like Bat Boy, I'd suggest also checking out Zombie Prom, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Evil Dead: The Musical, which are all pretty similar in tone.

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