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St. Scholastica's 'Bat Boy: The Musical' not for the squeamish

If you follow Weekly World News reports, you know Bat Boy as the cue-ball-sleek subject with shiny lethal incisors and translucent blue skin. He slouches around in hipster jeans and hangs out at Vampire Weekend concerts. Any time a more conventio...

If you follow Weekly World News reports, you know Bat Boy as the cue-ball-sleek subject with shiny lethal incisors and translucent blue skin.

He slouches around in hipster jeans and hangs out at Vampire Weekend concerts. Any time a more conventional celebrity (read: those who don't gorge themselves on mosquitoes) is photographed with his or her mouth shaped in the O of a fanged feral squeal, genealogical links are suggested. (Bat Boy and Batney Spears?)

Most recently, Bat Boy registered to vote in 48 states and has a crush on Meghan McCain. But his story has been building since 1992.

"Bat Boy: The Musical" was written by Keythe Karley and Brian Fleming and was culled from Bat Boy reports. The musical debuted as an off-Broadway play on Halloween night in 1997. The College of St. Scholastica follows suit, opening the theater season with the production at 7:30 p.m. on Halloween, and following with another show at midnight. It runs 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 6-8, and has a 2 p.m. show on Nov. 9. The two-hour performance, directed by Priscilla Manisto, features a relatively large cast of 27 actors -- a mix of community and St. Scholastica talent.

Manisto said she has been clamoring to do this show, in an intimate old church space where each drop of blood will be visible, since about 2001. And she has had the star local theater regular Kyle Geissler -- a 17-year-old senior from Hermantown High School -- pegged for the role of Bat Boy since he was young enough to need parental consent to consider the subject matter:

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"Incest, animal sex and stuff," Manisto said.

The story centers on a half-bat and half-boy -- and not necessarily the suave and mysterious Fallout Boy-fan of Weekly World News reports -- who is found living in a cave. Bat Boy is accepted and (intimately) embraced by some of the community; feared and loathed by others. Despite the word "boy" in the title, this is not an event for your favorite Cub Scout. Manisto gave it a rating of PG-13, but R was also considered.

"The music is incredible; the story is outstanding," Manisto said. "It's about tolerance, scapegoating and what is Christian charity. It's funny, it's big and it's bold. ... It gets down into your guts and sinks in beyond that."

A scene witnessed during a recent rehearsal seemed similar to something from Season Two of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or the closing chapters of Stephanie Meyer's teen vampire romance novel "Twilight."

"It's very 'Twilight,' " confirmed Amber Goodspeed, a St. Scholastica student who plays Meredith Parker -- whose daughter, Shelley Parker (played by St. Scholastica senior Ashley Borgstrom), develops feelings for Bat Boy. "You don't know what to expect. You think you know, but you don't know."

But make no mistake: Bat Boy isn't a vampire; he just drinks from the same food pyramid.

CHRISTA LAWLER covers arts and entertainment for the News Tribune. She can be reached at (218) 279-5536 or at clawler@duluthnews.com

Related Topics: THEATER
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