Review Roundup: LIZARD BOY Opens at Theatre Row

Lizard Boy will run through July 1, 2023.

By: Jun. 15, 2023
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Review Roundup: LIZARD BOY Opens at Theatre Row

Prospect Theater Company's the New York premiere of the award-winning new indie-rock musical Lizard Boy, is now in performances at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street).

Lizard Boy features book, music and lyrics by Justin Huertas (Marvel’s Squirrel Girl), direction by Brandon Ivie (Prospect’s Jasper in Deadland), and music direction by Steven Tran (Marvel’s Squirrel Girl). Following a successful run at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Prospect’s production of Lizard Boy will feature the original actor-musician cast of Justin Huertas, Kiki deLohr, and William A. Williams, and includes understudies Kai An Chee (Mr. Holland’s Opus, Miss Saigon), Milo J. Marami (A Chorus Line, Dog Man: The Musical), and Jacob Ryan Smith (Disney+’s “Hamster & Gretel”).

Lizard Boy tells the story of Trevor—a young man with green scaly skin. He feels like a monster, and rarely braves the city outside his apartment. But when a powerful voice calls to him in a dream, he impulsively finds a date (on Grindr) and begins an adventure beyond his wildest apocalyptic nightmares... Sparks fly in this queer-indie-rock-action-romance that pulses with fierce conflict and fiercer harmonies, and takes us on a heart-pounding ride of self-discovery that asks: If the world were against you... would you still save it?

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Elysa Gardner, New York Sun: The show’s narrative, in contrast, can seem a bit labored. Like other contemporary, youth-centric musicals such as “Be More Chill” and “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical,” the latter adapted from the popular children’s novel, “Lizard Boy” mixes fantastical elements with earnest appeals for sensitivity and inclusion, and the blend isn’t always a smooth one. A climactic sequence pitting Trevor against Siren feels drawn-out and melodramatic, not least of all because of Mr. Huertas’s insistence on milking sympathy for a character who might otherwise have been written off as a villain.

Robert Holfer, The Wrap: In the first few scenes of this musical about a Lizard Boy who leaves his apartment only once a year, on Monster Fest day (a day that allows him to have people believing he is just wearing a costume), Huertas’ show recalls Michael R. Jackson’s “A Strange Loop,” another musical where the songwriter also wrote the book. In “Loop,” the hero sings about what it’s like to “travel the world in a fat, Black, queer body.” In “Lizard Boy,” Trevor (Huertas) isn’t fat or Black, but he is as green as he is gay. Before that description also conjures up images from “Wicked,” it should be pointed out that Ivie’s direction doesn’t resort to any obvious stage effects. Trevor’s greenness is suggested through the lighting, by Brian Tovar, and a few streaks of sparkles sprinkled across this character’s face and arms (costumes by Erik Andor).

Christian Lewis, Queerty: Set in a CBGB-style music club, Lizard Boy playfully uses story theater to transform the space; scenic adaptation by Suzu Sakai, projections by Kate Freer, and direction by Brandon Ivie morph the space in unexpected and delightful ways, creatively using sound carts and instruments as sets and props. Likewise, the three cast members are all adept actor-musicians, each playing a score of instruments (a fitting choice for a play about three musicians). They are also vocally quite strong, delivering tight three-part harmonies.

Howard Miller, Talkin' Broadway: Staged as if the entire story were taking place at the club (road cases and a variety of musical instruments fill the set), and performed with minimal makeup and costumes, Lizard Boy really is a showcase for the trio of performers. Among them they play quite adeptly on ukulele, piano, guitar, glockenspiel, melodica, kazoo, cello, and a variety of percussion instruments, with William A. Williams contributing some skillful beatboxing along the way. The set list of 16 of Justin Huertas's original songs composed for the show are designed to support the storytelling and to allow the threesome to charm the socks off the audience. Which, to judge by the reaction of those at the performance I attended, they do in spades. Surrender to the premise of the tale, along with its message of love and acceptance, and you are in for a delightful time.

Suzanna Bowling, Times Square Chronicles: Make sure the name Justin Huertas is on your radar. His music encompasses a mired of styles and his lyrics cut to the point of the matter. He also plays the title role of Trevor, a boy due to a childhood occurrence is green with scales. He only leaves his apartment once a year, on what is known as Monster Fest day, because people are dressing up like him and it is the only time he feels normal and seen. It turns out Trevor became scaly and green because in 1980, when Mont St. Helen’s erupted, it released a dragon, who unbeknownst to five elementary school children were given special powers.

Photo Credit: Billy Bustmante