BWW Reviews: Bayou City Theatrics' BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL is Amusing Fun
After being gone for far too long Bayou City Theatrics (BCT) returned to the Houston Theater Scene with a lovely new venue and a fun production of the Off-Broadway musical comedy BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL. Still renovating their new space, the performance I attended was rough around The Edges. However, it is clear that Colton Berry, Jane Volke, and team are back and ready to take the Houston theatre scene by storm.
Walking into The Kaleidoscope, previously known as The Capitol, it is apparent that BCT is on the right path. The lobby is gorgeous, mixing the industrial feel of the city with their swanky Downtown location. The theater itself features seats on risers. However, this is where one of their largest drawbacks occurs. Before BAT BOY began, the seats I picked seemed like great seats. However, once actors took the stage, it became clear that the risers need to be steeper and/or BCT needs to make their performance space about 4 feet high. I found myself unable to see almost everything that was performed by seated and crouched actors during BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL. I even changed to seats higher on the risers for the second act, but the problem was not alleviated.
Another drawback for the performance was the use of microphones on stands. For some of their previous productions, BCT performed with head mics, and I think they should utilize these again. With their production of AIDA, sound was a concern as the performers were straining their voices to be heard over the live band. Their production of BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL had similar sounds of strain on the voices of the cast and for similar reasons.
Colton Berry's direction for BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL played into the campy nature of Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming's story and book. He coached his cast to make bold, zany choices for their West Virginian caricatures. Opposite the Hope Falls townsfolk, he has directed the members of the Parker family to be absurd yet real, allowing the audience to laugh at their foibles and follies while relating to them as well.
Starring as the titular character, Colton Berry creates a fascinating composite of a terrified animal and an intellectual. His transition from abandoned humanoid in a cave to fully functioning and inquisitive human is entertaining and even touching. I only wish there had been better microphones used for the performance, as I imagine that the climactic "Apology to a Cow" would have been truly incredible if Colton Berry's voice didn't sound so strained on the number.
Tori Shoemaker warmed hearts with her rebellious teenager Shelley Parker. Crystyl Swanson's MerEdith Parker traded innocence for compassion and strength. Kyle Ezer's Dr. Thomas Parker was nicely sinister and controlling. The ensemble, especially Luke Hamilton's Pan, left audiences smiling and giggling as they constantly changed roles to bring the town of Hope Falls to life.
The prosthetics created for the production were simply fantastic. The fangs and fake ears looked wonderful on Colton Berry, really allowing him to easily transform into a boy that appeared to be part bat.
What BCT does well, they always do very well. For BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL, BCT created a theater going opportunity for Houston audiences that was amusing and fun to take in. Sure this production had its weaknesses, but they mostly seemed caused by the fact that the musical opened about two weeks after the company received their keys to their new theatre and home. There is no doubt that they were hard at work readying the building and production concurrently.
Unfortunately for Houston audiences, BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL has already closed. However, BCT has an exciting and promising season lined up for the rest of the summer. Be sure to check out the soulful and heartwarming BROOKLYN: THE MUSICAL, which runs from July 10 to July 19 at The Kaleidoscope, 705 Main Street, Suite B, Houston, 77002. Following that, BCT will be producing the Regional Premiere of the hysterical and raunchy TRIASSIC PARQ, which runs from July 31 to August 9 at The Kaleidoscope. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.bayoucitytheatrics.com.
Photos courtesy of Bayou City Theatrics.
Promotional Image for Bayou City Theatrics' BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL.
Colton Berry as Bat Boy.
Colton Berry as Bat Boy.