Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Little Musical with Teeth By Beverly Creasey

Where would we be without the raft of fantastic stories in (the now defunct) Weekly World News? When you were stuck in the interminable checkout line at the CVS, there always would be a headline like “Woman Devoured by Fur Coat” to amaze and amuse. When you were running late and the bozo in front of you brought twenty items to the “10 items or less” line, you could convert your anger to laughter by discovering where Bat Boy had been sighted that week. Iraq? Afghanistan? DisneyLand? (Evidently most of us read the headline for free and never bought the paper so Weekly World News went the way of the dodo, ironically soon to be the way of the North American bat because of devastating “white nose” disease …but I digress. Back to the review.)

Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming capitalized on the craze for Bat Boy sightings by envisioning a cheeky musical about the poor, little fellow with the overbite. Their naughty story is plenty sardonic and Laurence O’Keefe’s music dovetails hilariously with the satire. Metro Stage Company’s riotous BATBOY (playing through June 11th) will have you cheering for the darling, misunderstood creature. Nick Sulfaro is simply adorable, learning how to speak English by mimicking Aubin Wise, herself sensational as the kindly wife of the town veterinarian (Nathanael Shea). Her duet with Sulfaro, “A Home for You,” is heartbreaking and genuinely lovely.

Director M. Bevin O’Gara’s entire cast is spot on, with amusing performances all around, especially Melody Madarasz as the vet’s handful of a daughter, Michael Ryan Buckley as the overwhelmed sheriff, Anthony Alfaro as the bible (and forehead) thumping Reverend Billy and James Tallach as not one, but two formidable women!

Music director John Howrey gets fine singing from the cast, especially in the rousing, show stopping “A Joyful Noise,” niftily choreographed, hallelujah style, by Chris Carcione. If you’re a BATBOY fan, you’ll be delighted. If you don’t know the musical, the Metro’s is one of the best, and certainly one of the bloodiest, productions I’ve seen.