Presented by Red House
Location Red House, 201 S. West Street Syracuse
When October 27- Nov 5
Runtime 2 hours, 20 minutes including 15 minute intermission
Our age recommendation 13 +
Tickets $25/ $15 Red House members
Review By Mary Gibble
You are in a cave. You are blinded by excessive fog and three flashlights carried by the the Taylor children. Out of the dark emerges a creature in a loin cloth. It’s a bat. It’s a boy. No, it’s Bat Boy.
“Bat Boy: The Musical” based on an article from the Weekly World News, opened on Oct. 27 at the Red House Performing Arts Center. Playing to a nearly sold out house, the cast and crew were ready to spread their wings and dig their fangs into this playful musical.
After being spotted by the Taylor kids during a tandem cave dive, the Bat Boy is brought up to the surface and thrust into the home of veterinarian Thomas Parker. Mrs. Parker and her daughter, Shelly, immediately accept the Bat Boy. The townspeople and Dr. Parker, however, are apprehensive about their pointy ear visitor.
After clothing himself and learning to speak (with a British accent no less), the Bat Boy, now named Edgar, is ready to assimilate into society. Or so he thinks.
As the Bat Boy, Anton Briones exceeds expectations. Whether he’s hanging from faux trees, jumping around his cage, or seducing women, Briones brings veracity and humor to the misunderstood creature. He bounces around the set like he’s testing out a brand new trampoline. His voice, capable of portraying the abrasive and subtle, carries the weight of some difficult songs. When lamenting over his role as a misunderstood creature he conveys anguish impossible to ignore.
With the body of a gymnast and the voice of a bird, Briones is the perfect Bat Boy. The guy can sing upside down. What more can you ask?
Laura Austin, John Haggerty, and Joanna Carpenter make up the members of the Bat Boy’s host family. Though they each react to him in different ways, all three provide strong performances.
As Mrs. Parker, Austin is June Cleaver with a tortured past and sense of humor. Haggerty sends chills through the small black box as the jealous Doctor. Carpenter provides a school girl playfulness to the self-possessed only child. This trio provides more than just a home for the Bat Boy; they are three talented individuals capable of bringing this small production to a professional level.
The ensemble has its high and low points. Rocky vocals and dancers who look more like zombies with ants in their pants plague the opening number. Thankfully, this is the sole slip-up. Members of the ensemble play multiple roles and jump between them with comedic precision.
Brian Detlefs stands out as Rick Taylor, the Preacher, and a homely housewife. Rapid changes from a skin-tight bad boy outfit to a jean jumper do not phase nor exhaust Detlefs.
The ‘Best Legs’ in the cast award goes to Stephfond Brunson. Though he spends the majority of the production in the ensemble, he shines when he plays Mrs. Taylor. Armed with a rolling pin and a purse, Brunson struts around the stage with the anger of a mother scorned. Not to mention, his legs look great in a pair of heels.
Halloween is on everyone’s mind this time of year. The Red House’s “Bat Boy” is the perfect mix of trick and treat. The cast as a whole, and the leads in particular, are full of energy throughout this demanding show. Between the Bat Boy and the Taylor kids hanging from the ceiling, fog setting the scene of the cave, and a shower of confetti, this production is full of smart tricks. “Bat Boy” is a treat that should not be missed.