The mountains are a horrible place to raise cows. No doubt about it. When people try, strange things happen. Like Bat Boy.
There's something sadistic about musicals in this town as of late. A case-in-point was the runaway raunchiness of "Debbie Does Dallas." It should come as no surprise that the latest oddity in the stage musical genre is being offered by several people responsible for bringing Debbie to her knees--er, I mean, dreams.
"Bat Boy--The Musical" could have taught Elton John and Bernie Taupin a few things about bringing the undead to the stage via sustained notes and a live orchestra. BB skips the self-important dramatics and relies heavily on camp. Presented in almost "Li'l Abner" fashion by James Iglehart, this lightly moralistic romp through a hillbilly town's hysteria when something odd is brought up from the local abandoned mine by a few intrepid slackers. Like a far more incestuous "Edward Sissorhands," Bat Boy becomes the focus of all life in this hickoid hellhole where a good year at the slaughterhouse is all the locals can ask for.
There are several standouts in the cast. DaRon Williams is absolutely hilarious in each of the roles he plays, with a deft sense of timing and delivery. Leanne Borghesi does a frightening job of channeling Faye Dunaway's channeling of Joan Crawford without getting as creepy as the latter. Eli Newsom manages well enough as Bay Boy, though some characterizations he presents could use a little more free-thinking and exploration. Nonetheless, he is enjoyable and fits well with his supporting cast.
BB--TM takes some odd chances and the payoff from them is variable. Sometimes poignant, sometimes tragic, and sometimes just the unvarnished truth about who and what we are as Americans. If the opening number starts to put you off, hang in there for the next scene and let the fun run away with you. This is a great show to go see and have your everyday world comically distanced from you. It's silly, it's bloody, it's goofy and light. Don't think of it as a musical; consider it a classic horror piece with a pulse.
Riding hard on the heels of All Hallow's, this show runs through November 12th at the Ray of Light Theater in San Francisco. For tickets and information, head for: roltheatre.com.