Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Late-Night Comedy 'Bat Boy' Comes to Stray Dog

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Late-Night Comedy 'Bat Boy' Comes to Stray Dog

Article excerpt

What is the weirdest number in "Bat Boy: The Musical," the strange and hilarious show that just opened at Stray Dog Theatre?

The country-western romp, "Another Dead Cow"? Or "Let Me Walk Among You," in which the title character offers to mow his neighbors' lawns or do their taxes ("I'm a CPA!") if only they'll accept him, fangs and all?

Both worthy contenders. But "Hold Me, Bat Boy" an impassioned plea performed with winged hands is truly in a class by itself.

In the years since he wrote that song, lyricist and composer Laurence O'Keefe has gone on to big-time success with "Legally Blonde: The Musical," scripted by his wife, Nell Benjamin. But you won't glimpse hints of that future in the scruffy, sexy, sensitive show at Stray Dog.

On the other hand, O'Keefe is also behind the blood-soaked musical "Heathers." There's a road from "Bat Boy" to "Heathers," and it runs straight through America.

Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, the playwrights, were inspired by a ridiculous tabloid story from 1969. To judge from the illustration, which features a fanged and pointy-eared humanoid, the story reported on a "bat boy" who lived in a cave.

Farley and Flemming put the cave, and the boy, in West Virginia and made his plight a metaphor for discrimination and a cry for tolerance. But one with songs and jokes.

Under the direction of Justin Been, a lively company bites into this material with gusto. Most of the actors play multiple roles; if you've been to Stray Dog before you'll recognize many of them, even in drag.

This, in other words, is late-night comedy theater. Leave the kids at home.

Corey Fraine plays Bat Boy, later known as Edgar. First portraying a feral creature, then a kind of spastic child (this is a little uncomfortable) and finally a version of Rex Harrison, Fraine addresses a wide range of situations with spirit and style.

He manages to make his soul-baring solo, "Apology to a Cow," simultaneously touching and nuts. The cow-head he holds probably helps. …

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