Backstage: 'Batboy - The Musical'
07/18/08 5:30PM By Neal Charnoff
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(Charnoff) If you're in the mood for some tabloid hysteria, look no further than Stowe Theater Guild's production of "Batboy-The Musical."
Described as "a musical comedy with bite," Batboy is based on the "Weekly World News" story of a half-boy, half-bat found living in a West Virginia cave.
Taken in and socialized by a local family, Batboy must fight the hatred and violence shown by the townspeople who are afraid of him. In turn, the locals learn lessons about themselves.
Batboy is initially taken in by -- who else -- a veterinarian, and his family, the Parkers.
In this scene, the Parkers try to figure out what to call their houseguest.
(Dialogue) "Well, we can name him sweetheart. What would you like to call him. You gotta eat something Batboy.''
"We're not calling him Batboy.''
"But that's what he looks like.''
"But that's cruel, dear.''
"But that's what he looks like.''
"What do you want to call him?''
"How about ugly.''
"Or perhaps Edgar! Oh Edgar! Oh look...he likes that!''
"Oh Ugly! He likes that better.''
"Edgar it is.''
(Charnoff) The Parkers teach Edgar social graces and how to speak properly, but the simple fact of his "otherness" brands him as an outsider.
(Batboy) "Let me walk among you."
(Charnoff) "Batboy-The Musical'' is directed by Tim Maynes of South Burlington.
Maynes says he wanted the staging of Batboy to reflect a tabloid sensibility. The set itself is black, and framed by a collage of Weekly World News headlines. But colorful lighting and costumes allow the action to pop out of the black background.
(Maynes) ``The whole feel that we're going for with the show is because most tabloid stories are based in reality. Everything from design to acting we've based in reality but tweaked it, exaggerated a little bit to keep that tabloid feel.''
(Charnoff) Maynes warns that while the show is a musical comedy, it addresses dark themes that include hypocrisy and racism.
But Maynes says that the main reason he wanted to stage "Batboy'' is because of its theme of acceptance.
(Maynes1) ``The show is sometimes done in a very lighthearted way, but I went a little darker with the show, because I think that the theme is really important, and I wanted to produce and direct this musical to kind of show people that come to see it that the themes are found today.''
(Charnoff) Nicholas Caycedo of Colchester plays Edgar the Batboy.
Caycedo says that he reached into his own background to get to the core of the play's theme of acceptance.
(Caycedo) "My parents were immigrants from Colombia. Everyone in America is an outsider to begin with, and you have to prove that you belong here, that you can be a participant, and you are just like every living breathing human out there, you just have a different background.''
(Charnoff) Kim Anderson of Richmond plays the wife of the vet who takes in Batboy.
Anderson agrees that "Batboy-The Musical'' adds some very dark ingredients to the musical comedy mix, including violence, incest and interspecies sex.
She says that the playwrights were clever enough to couch these elements in comedic reality.
(Anderson) "Those sort of issues sometimes need to be
dealt with in a different way, and I think that was the playwright's motivation
and I think their vision was that they didn't want these characters to be
portrayed over the top. These are just
real people going through extraordinary circumstances.''
(Charnoff) That being said, most people would consider discovering a half-boy half-bat in their midst to be an extraordinary circumstance.
To find out how ordinary people might handle just such a situation, you can see "Batboy-The Musical'' at the Town Hall Theater in Stowe through July 31st.
For VPR Backstage, I'm Neal Charnoff.