DONT’ MISS – BAT BOY, THE MUSICAL – at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles!
Opening at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 11, is Cathedral’s latest musical: Bat Boy. The Annex Theater is dark Friday, Nov. 12 (a school holiday), but plays Saturday at 1:00 and 7:00, and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. There is a second run the following week: evening performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday (after the family Mass and holiday craft faire) at 7:30 p.m., and a closing matinee Sunday at 2:00 p.m. According to cast member Robert Barner, tickets can be purchased from the cast and crew or at the front office. Students are $11.00, adults $16.00.
You are forgiven if you are wondering a little about the focus of the production. Will this be a show about baseball? Is it a prequel to Batman? Not exactly.
Do you remember back when there were newspapers in the check-out line at the supermarket? They were not really newspapers in the journalistic sense, more like tabloid scandal sheets – The National Enquirer, World Weekly News – that sort of thing.
The attention-grabbing headlines were mostly fiction and hyperbole (as became evident to anyone who actually bought and read an issue). And then, Bat Boy, a musical taken straight from the headlines of World Weekly News, opened off Broadway. Directed by Keythe Farley, who co-authored the book with Brian Flemming, and with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe, the show won both the Lucille Lortel Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award as best Off-Broadway musical of 2001.
Of course, Farley and Flemming did not take their story from the WWN; that would have been disastrous. Instead, they began with an outrageous headline, “Bat Child Found in a Cave!” and made up their own tale, rich in the universal and family conflicts depicted by classic drama (and soap operas) throughout literary history. The music, too, is eclectic in nature, including Gospel revival, country, hip-hop, rap, and Disney.
Mr. Walsh happened to be in New York that fateful season and liked the show. The idea simmered in the back of his mind until last April, when he accompanied Br. Chris and the Lasallian Youth to New York for the Convocation on the Rights of the Child. Learning that “inclusive community” was to be the focus of this year’s core principle, Mr. Walsh began thinking more seriously about the theme of acceptance as it was presented in the horror/musical comedy.
“At some point,” he explained, “all human beings face the feeling that something [about themselves] is not normal – or other people make them feel they don’t belong.” The show addresses not only the “other-ness” of the Bat Boy (Kevin Gallegos, pictured above) but also the bullies who take advantage of their authority to torment the weak and non-conforming.
In addition to director Joseph Walsh, the team of adults includes Walter Durham and his student crew of set constructors; UCLA associate professor of musical theater Dan Belzer (his tenth show at Cathedral); choreographer Tracy Powell also with Interact Theater Company; lighting designer Carol Doehring; and sound engineer Adam Hankinson from the Baldwin Park Performing Arts Center (and Knott’s Scary Farm).
The cast of 26 includes some veterans, among them Cristian Leon, the Cowardly Lion last year’s The Wiz, who plays Rev. Hightower; and Jazmin De La Torre, from last spring’s The Crucible, who takes on the role of “mother” to the Bat Boy. Another actor to watch is Gloria Sandoval, sister of senior James Sandoval, She plays Shelley, the “sister” of Bat Boy, and their attraction has elements of the forbidden love depicted in Romeo and Juliet. Some surprising newcomers include Kevin Gallegos in the title role and Robert Barner, who plays the town veterinarian, Dr. Parker. Neither of these young men had auditioned before, and yet each one displayed an ability to connect with the character he plays. Br. Roch, the producer, designated Robert as the spokesman for this article.
Transferring to Cathedral at the beginning of his sophomore year, Robert admits he spent his first two years being “isolated and quiet.” He is delighted to be finally “blooming,” appreciates theater because it is “a nice outlet for showing emotion.” He enjoys both the horror and the comic aspects of the show although he acknowledges that an important theme is ostracism. “It’s something everyone can relate to,” he declared. He fully expects the show to sell out, and urges people to buy their tickets from cast and crew as soon as possible. Kevin Gallegos is also in his first play, and Robert finds him “energetic and outgoing” but also, like the rest of the cast, part of a “good atmosphere.”