You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown Opens Friday

by The Cowl Editor on February 14, 2019

Arts & Entertainment

Providence College Theatre, Dance, and Film Features Student-Led Production

by Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

During any given school year, Providence College’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film will put on a sizable collection of shows. In 2018-2019 thus far, there have already been two completed large-scale theater productions, as well as multiple dance concerts. 

Lillie Hunter ’22/The Cowl

The fall semester provided students with a production of Bat Boy: The Musical, while the department has just begun the spring semester with a run of Lord of the Flies performances. 

However, the next show to come out of TDF is bound to provide viewers with something a little more close to home. Why? Because it is completely student-produced. 

This upcoming weekend, TDF will be putting on an updated production of the 1967 musical comedy You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Originally created by playwright John Gordon in conjunction with composer and lyricist Clark Gesner and based on the characters in Charles M. Schultz’s classic comic strip Peanuts, the Theatre, Dance, and Film performance includes additional dialogue by Michael Mayer, as well as additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Since its inception, this musical has been on Broadway, toured the U.S., and more. Now, it is coming here to PC. 

The upcoming TDF production of this theater classic is, as previously mentioned, an independent student production. Charlie Brown is being directed by Teddy Kiritsy ’19, with a cast and crew composed entirely of members of the PC student body. Kiritsy and six other student cast members bring classic Peanuts characters to life through a variety of mediums during the show’s runtime. 

One of the most impressive aspects of this performance of Charlie Brown is how much Kiritsy and company are able to accomplish with a small cast and a limited number of props. Being performed in the John Bowab Studio Theater, the cast does not have a huge amount of stage space to work with. However, they take what space they have and make the most of it, using the stage to bring themselves closer to the audience. 

The musical itself is not so much one flowing plotline, but more of a collection of vignettes that compose the story as a whole. These smaller scenes include a wide variety of theatrical mediums, from song and dance, to humor, to some more serious scenes. Thematically, the mood varies as well, shifting from jokes about Beethoven to discussions of Charlie’s mental health. However, through clever staging decisions, smooth transitions, and well-placed music, the whole structure of Charlie Brown flows smoothly and blends each of these vignettes into a complete and enjoyable show. 

As a whole, the student production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a true success by Kiritsy and his talented cast. Any theatrical production coming from TDF is bound to be well-composed and impressive, but the added layer of Charlie Brown being student produced makes it that much more of a triumph. The show will run for this upcoming weekend, with presentations taking place Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 17 at 2 p.m.

Vans Warped Tour Comes Back to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

by The Cowl Editor on February 7, 2019


by Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff


In some cases, music has the power to become an institution. In the case of the Vans Warped Tour, it did just that. Founded in 1995, this tour became a holy ground for alternative and punk rock music, proving itself a favorite among performers and fans alike over the past few decades. Each summer, the tour treks cross-country and sets up stints in cities around the United States, attracting throngs of fans at each location.

However, to the dismay of hardcore fans, the festival organizers announced in 2018 that the tour would be terminating its run for good. Creator Kevin Lyman recognized that the Warped Tour was not attracting the numbers of attendees that big name festivals, such as Coachella and Bonnaroo, tend to draw. Due to this, Lyman and the rest of the organizers made the tough decision to close the door on the Warped Tour after completing its 2018 rounds. 

This termination of Vans Warped Tour, though, was not necessarily meant as a permanent closure. In fact, to the delight of punk rock fans around the country, the festival coordinators have planned a special event to take place this summer. 

Although it will not be partaking in its traditional cross-country circuit, Warped Tour will be holding festivals in three U.S. cities this summer in order to commemorate its 25th anniversary. This collection of shows will take everything the tour has been known for over its quarter-of-a-decade run and condense it. 

Instead of spreading its acts and exhibits across the country, the tour will have three massive iterations of its festival across the months of June and July. The initial stop at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio will take place on June 8. A two-day festival at Atlantic City Beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 29 and 30  will follow. The final leg of the celebratory tour will culminate at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on July 20 and 21. 

Due to its consolidation into only a few shows, each Warped Tour location is poised to be massive. According to Angelica Acevedo of Billboard Magazine, “There will be over 50 bands across multiple stages, extreme sports (from skateboarding to motor cross), and even an art exhibit created in partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, titled “Forever Warped: 25 Years of Vans Warped Tour.” While the bands themselves have yet to be announced, fans anticipate an impressive celebration at all locations of  this festival. 

The biggest question that this commemorative tour presents is what exactly gives a music festival its merit. Is Warped Tour, a festival with a declining attendance rate but a solid base of hardcore attendees, less relevant than Coachella or Governor’s Ball? Is its genre, extra offerings, name recognition, or something else that makes a festival relevant? Regardless, it is certain that attendees of Warped Tour’s 25th Anniversary run have a unique, yet familiar, celebratory experience to look forward to. 

Greta Van Fleet Raises Question About Familiar Sound

by The Cowl Editor on January 31, 2019

Arts & Entertainment

Is it Right to Judge a Band Simply by Comparison? 

by Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

Horizontal band still Greta Van Fleet

During its midseason debut on Jan. 19, Saturday Night Live hosted the up-and-coming Michigan rock outfit Greta Van Fleet as their musical guest. Comprised of frontman Josh Kiszka, brothers Jake and Sam Kiszka on guitar and bass, and drummer Danny Wagner, the band took the stage decked out in vests, feathers, and retro-clothes. During their time on stage, the band strutted around and performed renditions of their popular tracks “Black Smoke Rising” and “You’re the One” from their albums From the Fires (2017) and Anthem of the Peaceful Army (2018), respectively. 

With two successful albums and three separate Grammy nominations (Best New Artist, Best Rock Performance, and Best Rock Album) already under their belts, it would not be surprising if Greta Van Fleet found widespread popularity and acclaim. And to some extent, they have.  However, much of the immediate response to their SNL debut and work as a whole has followed a single critical trend—people think they sound too much like Led Zeppelin. 

The band has been compared to the British heavy metal pioneers virtually since their inception, and it does not seem like this association will be going away anytime soon. In fact, many critics took to the internet immediately following Greta Van Fleet’s SNL act and continued this Zeppelin rhetoric without missing a beat.  Even Robert Plant himself, legendary singer and leader of Led Zeppelin, has acknowledged Greta Van Fleet and joked that their sound reminds him very much of Zeppelin’s first album. 

As one might imagine, the band is certainly aware of this criticism which remains attached to their rise to fame. In an interview with Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene, Josh Kiszka acknowledged this frequently-made critique of his band’s sound. He said, “Ultimately, I’d like to think that there’s substance to what we’re doing.” Kiszka continues, “Obviously, we hear the similarity…That’s one influence of ours. But at this point, it’s like ‘Okay, we’ve acknowledged that. Let’s move on.’” Essentially, Kiszka and his bandmates want the world to stop viewing them from the one-dimensional perspective of “Hey, these guys sound like so and so.” 

This perspective is not just reserved for trolls on social media, either. Publications like Pitchfork magazine have doled out particularly scathing reviews from this viewpoint, giving their album Anthem of the Peaceful Army a 1.6 out of 10 and writing “Greta Van Fleet sounds like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves.” 

Despite the criticism, the boys of Greta Van Fleet, all in their late teens or early 20s, have not only gained a large following over the past year or so, but also multiple Grammy nominations. With talent, followers, and an abundance of energy and potential, it would be foolish to count this band out already. Someday, music listeners may even be saying that new bands sound just like Greta Van Fleet. 

“Anyone Can Wear the Mask”

by The Cowl Editor on January 24, 2019

Arts & Entertainment

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Breaks the Web-Slinging Mold

by: Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

It is not uncommon in the realm of comic book movies to observe criticism of the repetitiveness of the genre. While powerhouses such as Marvel and DC are in the throes of building large-scale interconnected universes, releasing multiple box office smash hits a year, it is easy to become tired of these sorts of films. Arguably, no other hero has faced as much criticism as Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Starting with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man from 2002 and ending with 2017’s Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, there have been seven live-action Spider-Man movies with three different actors playing the character in a span of 15 years. With reboot after reboot, both on T.V. through an animated medium and on the silver screen, the story of Peter Parker has been tread and re-tread time and time again. In 2018 alone, the hero featured in Avengers: Infinity War, an animated series, and his own video game. So how could another iteration of the Spider-Man story possibly break the mold it created for itself?

Horizontal movie still Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

This question has been answered in outstanding fashion by the animated 2018 feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller of the Lego Movie acclaim, this revitalized take on the Spider-Man story is anything but a retreading of previous films. Instead of focusing on the classic Peter Parker story fans have come to know over the years, this film chooses to follow the life of Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of a parallel universe. 

While much of Miles’ story does parallel that of Peter Parker, it is unique and fresh enough to provide the same super-heroic thrills while building a whole new world for viewers to become immersed in. 

With a high-caliber cast providing voice acting, including the talents of Shameik Moore, Brian Tyree Henry, Mahershala Ali, Chris Pine, Liev Schreiber, Jake Johnson, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney, and more, Spider-Verse molds this unique new story efficiently and breathtakingly throughout its runtime. 

Interestingly enough, it is the precedent set by the earlier iterations of the Spider-Man story that allows Spider-Verse to flourish on its own. The movie is extremely meta, as it references almost every other representation of the character throughout his storied history. Through its ability to build upon the past while continually adding to Spider-Man’s future, this adaptation straddles the line between humor and emotional resonance, using this balancing act to thrive. 

Spider-Verse also carves out its place in the Spider-Man canon with a diverse cast, its well-constructed and powerful soundtrack, and a comics-inspired animation style that won the film the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film just a few weeks ago. 

But the lasting impact the film creates comes from one of the main themes that it establishes and bolsters during the story: Miles is told at one point by a mentor that “Anyone can wear the mask.” Bryan Bishop of the Verge writes, “In this film, Spider-Man isn’t one particular person; it’s an idea accessible to anyone, no matter where they come from or what they look like.” This is where Spider-Verse is able to excel most; it proves that, while the film may be telling a familiar story, it does not have to be a carbon-copy of its predecessors. 

Post-Festivus Festival Lineups Announced

by The Cowl Editor on January 17, 2019

Arts & Entertainment

by: Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

Fresh off the recent winter holiday season, music fans from around the country are prepping for another festive season that is fast approaching. Much like the winter holidays, this upcoming season is centered around big names, large gatherings, and the sharing of food and music. This season, of course, is festival season. 

Set to take place during the late spring through mid-summer months, many of the country’s major music festivals took to social media over the course of the past couple of weeks to announce their lineups for 2019. People flocked to media websites to share their thoughts and opinions on the headlining artists. 

Vertical rectangular lineup

Many big-name festivals such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, The Governors Ball, Boston Calling, and Firefly featured equally as big name artists to fill the headlining slots. This slew of artists ranges from pop sensation Ariana Grande, to rap superstar Travis Scott, to the genre-bending Childish Gambino. Other top slots were allotted to the likes of Tame Impala, The Strokes, The 1975, Post Malone, and other musicians that have made a splash over the past year or so. 

The remainder of the acts following the headliners feature a plethora of artists from a range of genres, as each festival attempts to create the broadest-ranging appeal that it can. Ranging from DJ acts like Diplo and Gesaffelstein, to the hard-hitting hip-hop of Sheck Wes and YG, to the punk of Turnstile and the funk of The Internet, there seems to be something for every music fan at these auditory galas. 

However, Larry Fitzmaurice of Vulture Magazine brings up an interesting point in his article “Where Do Music Festivals Go Now?” To start this article, Fitzmaurice remarks that “Over the next few years, we’re likely to bear witness to fond remembrances and supersized celebrations as some of the biggest North American music festivals achieve a point of longevity meriting acknowledgement.” 

Fitzmaurice makes a valid point here, as the festival fever that has become ingrained in American musical culture in recent years is still a young phenomenon. While outliers like Woodstock in 1969 prove that this idea is not wholly new, the American festival giants like Coachella have only been in existence for roughly 20 years. Boston Calling, one of the most up-and-coming music festivals in the nation, is celebrating only its 10th event in existence this May. 

Vertical rectangular concert poster

With the proliferation of festivals around the country as the years go on, the question now becomes not if these music-centered ventures will continue to expand, but how they will seek to distinguish themselves as unique and sustainable. Fitzmaurice writes, “It’s worth thinking beyond the increasing sameness across lineups and experiences, instead considering whether, in 20 years’ more time, there will be enough festivals in existence to resemble each other at all.” 

How can the Bonnaroos and Fireflys and Coachellas move beyond demanding and cementing relevance, and on to creating a permanent place in American culture? Can these festivals create a lasting niche in our society, or will they become bland and fizzle out with time?  Only time will tell if musical festivals in the United States will stand the test of time. 

Rapper Earl Sweatshirt Returns to Spotlight

by The Cowl Editor on December 6, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

Album Some Rap Songs Reveals His Stream of Consciousness

by: Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

Earl Sweatshirt Some Rap Songs

Thebe Kgositsile, better known by his stage name, Earl Sweatshirt, is a man who values his privacy. The song “Veins” from his new album Some Rap Songs includes the bars “It’s been a minute since I heard applause / It’s been a minute since you seen or heard from me I’ve been swerving calls.” These lyrics reflect the ebb and flow of Kgositsile’s life over the course of his career.

Sweatshirt’s rapid ascent to fame at the age of 16 was tied to his association with former hip-hop collective Odd Future, which included notable members such as Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean. However, this success came with setbacks, as Earl’s celebrity only served to heighten much of his anxiety and mental issues. 

Due to the consequences of rising to stardom, Kgositsile’s musical creations have been few and far-between over the years. Between his start in 2010 and present day, he has only released  a total of four projects. Between releases, Kgositsile tends to lay low and keep to himself. The title of his 2015 release, I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside, perfectly encapsulates this aspect of the rapper’s personality. 

Because of this attitude, in conjunction with his releases being so sparse, Kgositsile’s new album was the subject of a massive amount of hype and speculation. With such a nonspecific title and two sparse lead singles that provided little idea of the conceptual focus or direction of the work, Some Rap Songs was somewhat of an enigma prior to its release. After it was released on Friday, November 30, however, it quickly became an extremely divisive topic of conversation for rap fans, and for good reason. 

Some Rap Songs sits at a total runtime of 24 minutes, with a track list of 15 different songs. The longest of these songs, “The Mint (feat. Navy Blue)” is a mere two  minutes and 45 seconds, and the shortest, “Loosie” has a runtime of only 59 seconds. 

Craig Jenkins of Vulture writes that Some Rap Songs “serves compact, brass tacks rap, all hypnotic loops and life lessons, the kind of epiphanies that hit you when you’ve seen too much of the true human condition, in strength and in depravity.” This analysis really gets at the core of what Kgositsile is seeking to convey on his latest venture. 

The rapper’s bona fide lyrical focus on the negatives of life that plague him and his psyche are still present on this project. However, this does not mean that the entire thematic focus of his album is on difficulty and despair. 

Some Rap Songs portrays a version of Sweatshirt at seemingly the most comfortable we have seen him, as he navigates the 24 minutes of crackling and glitched-out loops of beats with dexterity and sincerity. He covers topics such as his depression, relationships, and even the passing of his father (renowned poet Keorapetse Kgositsile) with ease, creating in full a project that comes off more as a stream-of-consciousness than a series of separate songs. 

The album ends with a fuzzy instrumental guitar and brass track entitled “Riot!”  which caps off Kgositsile’s personal deliveries with a somewhat sunny and positive outlook on the future, so it seems like things may be looking up.

Summer Breeze Blowing Fall Leaves: On Oxnard, Anderson .Paak Delivers a Breath of Fresh Air

by The Cowl Editor on November 29, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

the album cover and vinyl for Anderson .Paak's latest album, Oxnard

by Peter Keough ’20

A&E Staff

Even if you have not heard of Anderson .Paak by name, it is likely that you are probably familiar with some of the work with which he is affiliated. The man is not only a rapper, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, but has also produced and featured on songs by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Christina Aguilera, A Tribe Called Quest, and even the late Mac Miller. He also co-fronted a project with songwriter and producer Knxwledge, under the name NxWorries, that was met with critical acclaim. However, on his newest solo album, .Paak is able to truly show off his personal skill set.

This new album, named Oxnard after the city in Southern California that .Paak was born and raised in, was released on Nov. 16 by Aftermath Entertainment. This is notably the label founded and run by ex-N.W.A. member Dr. Dre, who also produced the entirety of Oxnard with .Paak and various other producers. Dre worked closely with .Paak throughout the entire album-creation process, helping him flesh out each of the 14 tracks into a cohesive whole.  

In full, Oxnard presents itself as a shimmery, warm album with plenty of heart and soul. Anderson .Paak’s trademark focus on creating sticky, sultry grooves is present throughout the work, making the listener sonically invested in each and every song. He effectively transitions between funk-tinged slow-burners such as “Saviers Road” and “Anywhere” (feat. Snoop Dogg and The Last Artful, Dodgr) to more upbeat, glittery songs such as the lead single “Tints” (feat. Kendrick Lamar). Rolling Stone writes, “.Paak remains an anomaly: No one else is as dedicated to upbeat and funky hip-hop soul as the 32-year-old singer, rapper, and drummer,” perfectly highlighting .Paak’s versatility. 

It is the album’s dedication to finding these grooves, coupled with the dedicated production by Dr. Dre and company, that allows Oxnard to bring some summer warmth to November. Each song is crafted in such a fashion that it feels as if the listener is sitting in the studio as .Paak and his band the Free Nationals are recording. Whether he is rapping about the tinted windows of his car, the prevalence of gun violence in the U.S., or the passing of dear friends, .Paak is always able to bring a sense of cool to his songs on Oxnard.  

Through this use of breezy melodies and hypnotic vocal performances, .Paak’s Oxnard is successful in bringing a taste of summer to these dreary fall and winter months. His songs convey the feeling of cruising down the highway with the windows down, without a care in the world. The song “Tints” begins with .Paak crooning “I been feelin’ kinda cooped up, cooped up/I’m tryna get some fresh air.” For listeners, Oxnard is exactly the breath of fresh air necessary to get us through these humdrum months. So sit back, relax, and throw on some Anderson .Paak to bring some brightness to a gray day.

Relatability and Nostalgia: Jonah Hill’s Mid90s: Actor Makes Directorial Debut Accessible to All

by Kerry Torpey on November 15, 2018

Arts & Entertainment


by Peter Keough ’20

A&E Staff

The student body at Providence College is comprised of students in the age range of approximately 18 to 23 years old, with birthdates ranging from the year 1995 to 2000. Therefore, it is safe to say that no PC students were growing up in the time period depicted in Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s. However, it remains relatable to all age groups.  

Mid90s is a bildungsroman, as it shows the coming of age of the 13-year-old protagonist named Stevie. The viewers follow Stevie, played by Sunny Suljic, as an adolescent in 1990s Los Angeles. The film transitions between his tough home life with his mother and older brother (Katherine Waterston and Lucas Hedges), to the unlikely friendships he builds with other skateboarding teens, played by Na-Kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galicia, and Ryder McLaughlin. 

This movie is Hill’s inaugural piece of directorial work.  Therefore, he was adamant that it not become another piece of gimmicky, nostalgia-reliant cinema. In an interview for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where Mid90s originally premiered on Sept. 9, Hill addressed his goal for the film: “The two rules of the film was no nostalgia porn, and no skate porn.” He wanted to create something that was both authentic and respectable, but also relatable.

After viewing the film in theaters, it is safe to say that Hill achieved this balance in his final product. The visual aspects of Mid90s, from the grainy 4:3 VHS-styled cameras to the wardrobe of each character, accurately transport the viewer back to the intended time. The soundtrack plays a similar role, and was handpicked by Hill from a playlist of over 300 songs he wanted to be part of his film.

However, through the use of such a character-driven and engaging story, Hill did not have to rely only on these deliberate nostalgic choices in order to evoke a sense of sentimentality in the viewer. In the same TIFF interview, he claimed, “The idea was that if at the last minute we decided to not call this film Mid90s and put it in present day, that it would still be a valid story.” This validity is achieved through the down-to-earth narrative  around which the movie is centered. 

Nothing about the film is flashy or overdone, and it relies on its simplicity in order to reach the largest possible audience. Many people can easily relate to the childhood experience of finding a group of friends that allow you to be your truest self as well as remembering an instance where they felt accepted, dejected, or both. Mid90s appeals to these simple and familiar aspects of childhood, allowing the film to escape the trap of being simply just another nostalgia trip, and presenting itself as a truly accessible film for all. 

Empathy and Angst: The Wonder Years At The Strand

by The Cowl Editor on November 8, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

Pop-punk Band Displays Gratitude for Loyal Fans

by: Peter Keough ’20 A&E Staff

At their headlining show at Providence venue The Strand this past Friday, Philadelphia born-and-bred pop-punk band The Wonder Years opened their set with the title track from their most recent album, Sister Cities. The chorus of the track finds front man Dan “Soupy” Campbell belting out the lines, “I’m laying low/A stray dog in the street/You took me home/We’re sister cities.” This chorus accurately captures what may have been the most integral part of their entire show: the band cares about its fans.

One way this was exhibited was in the composition of the set list. Through their hour and a half performance, the band played 17 songs and a two-song encore afterwards. Not only is this a relatively large amount of songs to include on a set list, but it was also extremely varied. This variety showed care for both old and new fans with carefully selected songs from their latest album, as well as its predecessors.

Campbell mentioned at one point during his time on stage that this is The Wonder Years’ 13th year of creating, producing, and performing music together. It also signifies a 13-year-long relationship between the band members and their fan base. For The Wonder Years, this relationship is what makes their work so fulfilling for them.

Live performance rectangular photo The Wonder Years

Another way that they exemplified their relationship with fans during their set was through explicit concern for the audience’s well-being. As may be expected at a pop-punk concert, the fast pace and high octane music was accompanied by a raucous crowd presence. This chaos included moshing, jumping, pushing, and most visibly, crowd surfing. 

While this is very normal for such a concert, what was somewhat unorthodox was Campbell and the rest of the band’s caution regarding it. The musicians were constantly checking in on members of the crowd, often pointing out crowd surfers to the venue security in order to ensure their safe return to the ground. Campbell himself maintained this role of guardian throughout the entire show, reaching into the crowd to assure the safety of his fans on multiple occasions. 

The penultimate display of The Wonder Years’ ability to care for and connect with their audience came about two-thirds of the way through their set. While reaching the climax in their song “Cigarettes & Saints,” Campbell held his mic up in the stand and turned it towards the audience, prioritizing their singing over his own. 

After this song came to a close, Campbell stopped to speak to the crowd for a moment. He highlighted how caring, genuine, and empathetic he knew the band’s fan base is, and thanked the crowd for maintaining that attitude for the duration of the band’s existence. In this moment, Campbell and The Wonder Years proved what their concert and tour as a whole were really about. It was not about promoting themselves and performing to make money, but instead a chance for them to do what they love, with people they love, each and every night.

It is in this way that they lived the true message of Sister Cities. Just as actual sister cities are meant to be linked to one another to provide support and exchange, The Wonder Years are linked to their passionate fan base for the same reasons. 

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.