By Justine ReSPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
A fast-paced, high-energy musical takes the stage at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. “Bat Boy” is an intense musical with a killer cast. The show is about a half boy and half bat creature, named Edgar (Jake Saleeby) that is found in the woods by a group of kids.
To everyone that crosses his path, Edgar is seen as an outsider. However, Meredith (Deanna Giulietti) is a kind and nurturing mother who takes Edgar in and loves him, raising him just as she raises her daughter, Shelley (Laura Michelle Erle).
Giulietti’s voice is incredibly powerful as she belts the show’s score. Giulietti reminds me of a young Laura Osnes. The song “A Home for You” is tender in the first act and reveals the connection between Meredith and Edgar. This duet is charming as Meredith assures Edgar that it is okay to be different.
Edgar is misunderstood as he longs to be a boy, but hard as he tries, he is still part bat – thus his hunger for blood. Saleeby employs inept physicality as he transitions from his animalist portrayal to being a boy. Not to mention his acrobats, as he hangs upside down in the cage.
Besides his physical portrayal of the role, his acting is just as impressive. The acting choices he makes allow the audience to sympathize with him as an outsider.
But at the same time, he is also a bad guy, so it is very hard to choose exactly whose side you are on as an audience member. Thus this role, reminds me of Walter White in “Breaking Bad” because the audience is conflicted with how to perceive Edgar.
The show takes place in West Virginia, so the cast woos the audience with their comical southern accents. Besides the humor, behind the Southern vibe is this idea of “Christian Charity,” which is a double-edged sword in this musical. The song “Christian Charity” is originally sung by Meredith to justify that she is taking in a “bat boy,” showing that she is doing the right thing by helping an outsider.
However, the idea of “Christian Charity” is taken in a different direction later on in the show. The townspeople of Hope Falls, West Virginia are opposed to having the Bat Boy in their town as they believe that he is contributing to the cow plague that is preventing them from slaughtering enough meat to feed the community.
Thus, it would be moral, “Christian Charity” to find a way to get rid of him to save the town. The duality of the idea of “Christian Charity” is one example of the complexity of this show.
At the surface, the story may seem bubbly, with bright colors and larger-than-life characters, but there are a lot of intricacies to the show.
The director (Ilona Pierce) conceived the production in a way that gives the audience a balance of depth as well as comedy.
According to Daniel Artuso, the actor who plays the role of Rick, “I’ve never been in a show this illustrious. It’s non-stop action. Every single action pushes the story forward to the climactic ending.”
This show is a happy medium of goofy fun plus an intricate storyline that says a great deal about the human condition. A must see for this semester, “Bat Boy” continues from Oct. 24-26 at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse, South Campus.