Bat Boy: The Musical: Unconventional Story, Relevant Themes

by The Cowl Editor on November 1, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

by: Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

In recent years, Providence College’s Department of Theater, Dance and Film, (TDF) has put on renditions of many well-known plays and musicals for their larger-scale productions. From performances of classics like Our Town, contemporary pieces like Into the Woods, and fan favorites like The Addams Family, TDF has tended to lean towards choosing some more recognizable pieces of theater.

However, with their current selection of the pop-rock production, Bat Boy: The Musical, TDF has branched out in a distinctly new direction.

Directed by Jimmy Calitri with musical direction by Lila Kane and choreography by Jennifer Hopkins, TDF’s staging of Bat Boy: The Musical is certainly a noteworthy divergence from the department’s recent work. Built around the story of a half-human-half-bat hybrid introduced into an openly religious Southern community, this musical is far from ordinary.

Bat Boy the Musical Providence College

Performed on an industrially set with splashes of retro-tinged colors and interior design, Bat Boy convincingly brings the viewers back to 1950s Hope Falls, West Virginia, where the story takes place. Right off the bat, the powerful guitar riff and steady drumbeat of the opening number introduces the somewhat unsettling air that surrounds the entire show.

The score of the musical as a whole is unorthodox for a theatrical production. While the show stays faithful to its branding as a “pop-rock musical,” it also works in elements of hip-hop, gospel, and plenty of powerful ensemble pieces. This variety of genre and theme keeps the viewer sonically intrigued, and helps embellish some of the show’s tonal and thematic underscoring throughout.

The lyrics found in the opening number best summarize one of the main themes of the production. In the song “Hold Me, Bat Boy,” the ensemble sings the lyrics “He’s much like me” as well as “Who’s much like you” in reference to the Bat Boy (Dan Jameson ’21) himself. This introduces the theme of acceptance in the face of dissimilarity, one of the most vital messages of the show.

It is the relatable and relevant themes that manifest throughout the avant-garde narrative of the musical that drive home some of the most important parts for the audience. Not only does the script make light of themes of acceptance, but also those of family, religious fervor, love, identity and community. These relatively universal and accessible themes are what anchor the musical, keeping the audience intrigued and invested through the twists and unnatural turns of the script.

Each and every facet of this TDF production contribute to this thematic importance that it strives to imbue in its viewers. The singing, dancing, set design, choreography, costume design, and pacing all work in concert with one another to present a twisted yet meaningful work. By the end of the performance, the audience is left surprised, both by the interesting plot twists and relevance of many timeless motifs.

Bat Boy the Musical Providence College

For those interested in attending a performance of TDF’s production of Bat Boy: The Musical, the remaining performances take place Friday, November 2-4. Tickets are on sale at the Smith Center for the Arts Box Office as well as on the TDF website.