The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
In 1992, the now-defunct tabloid Weekly World News published an article about the discovery of a grotesque half-bat, half human creature dwelling in the shadows of a West Virginia cave.
Although the story, like most of Weekly World News’ content, was entirely fabricated, Bat Boy lived on in the American consciousness — so much so that it inspired the 1997 off-Broadway musical “Bat Boy,” which the Lamar State College-Port Arthur Theatre Department will present as its fall musical, Dec. 6-8.
“It’s ‘Twilight’ meets ‘Phantom of the Opera’ meets ‘Oedipus Rex: The Musical,’” said Silsbee native Hilary Hayes, who plays Meredith Parker, wife of the local veterinarian.
“Bat Boy” is discovered in the fictional town of Hope Falls, West Virginia, when he is taken captive after attacking a local teenager. The befuddled Sheriff Reynolds takes Bat Boy to the home of town veterinarian Dr. Parker, where his wife Meredith takes pity on him and christens him “Edgar.” Initially, the repulsed townspeople are reluctant to accept Edgar, but he wins them over after Meredith tames him and teaches him to speak. However, the tide turns once more after Edgar becomes romantically involved with the Parkers’ teenage daughter, Shelley.
In addition to playing Shelley, one of the lead roles, Bridge City native Ciara Jackson has doubled as the show’s choreographer. Jackson was so committed to choreographing entirely original numbers that she didn’t even glance at YouTube for pointers.
“I’ve basically been living with the Bat Boy CD,” Jackson said. “It’s been an adventure, but everyone has put in a lot of work. I’m really impressed.”
Director Damon Gengo said “Bat Boy” is a more complex choice for the program’s fall musical, but confidence in his cast prompted him to select it.
“The show would normally be a bit easier in the fall, but I had such a big, talented group that I wanted to really push them,” Gengo, technical director of theater and instructor of speech and drama at LSC-PA, said. “I love the music, and we have some fabulous voices.”
“Bat Boy” is a very challenging musical, the cast agreed.
“It’s a very complicated show, both musically and technically,” said Nick Bishop, a Groves native who plays Sheriff Reynolds. “It has challenged us in every way, shape or form.”
Hayes said that while the show is not suitable for children, it is prime viewing for anyone who considers themselves fans of the arts.
“If you love art, you love music, you love theater, and you’re willing to suspend disbelief, you’ll love the show,” she said.
“Bat Boy” will run at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Lamar State College-Port Arthur Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for children. Students, faculty and staff of Lamar State College-Port Arthur are admitted free. To reserve tickets, call 409-984-6111.