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'Bat Boy: The Musical'

It's a freaky, big-eared snarling face from the tabloids, not the Gotham City crime-fighter or any of his progeny, at the center of "Bat Boy: The Musical," a Crimson Creek Players show opening Tuesday in Grand Forks.

'Bat Boy' poster image

It's a freaky, big-eared snarling face from the tabloids, not the Gotham City crime-fighter or any of his progeny, at the center of "Bat Boy: The Musical," a Crimson Creek Players show opening Tuesday in Grand Forks.

To area theater-goers, Bat Boy may be an unfamiliar character and "Bat Boy: The Musical" a bit of a mystery. Do not, for instance, confuse Bat Boy with the caped crusader.

Still, director Chris Berg said, "Bat Boy: The Musical" has humor, heart and great songs, all of which should make it a pleasant surprise and, he hopes, a hit with local audiences.

"People will be surprised because, yes, the show is very funny, but it's also completely serious," Berg said. "Yes, the show is crazy, but there's a tale to be told about this poor Bat Boy. And the music is fantastic."

In 1992 a supermarket tabloid called The Weekly World News ran a story about Bat Boy, a half-boy, half-bat supposedly found living in a cave. The story inspired Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming to write a stage adaptation. American composer/lyricist Laurence O'Keefe wrote the lyrics and the show premiered in 1997. It's since been produced around the world as well as in U.S. regional theater.

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The show begins with three young cave explorers discovering Bat Boy, who looks like something out of Nosferatu. Soon, the locals are clamoring for Bat Boy's destruction because they believe he's connected to a strange illness that is killing cows. Although Bat Boy is adopted by a local family and yearns for acceptance, he faces hatred and violence from people who don't understand him and who fear him.

"It's simply about the acceptance of this bat child into society. Can they accept him for being half man, half bat?" Berg said.

Despite those serious themes, the show is full of slapstick, surrealism, camp horror and irony. Berg said he sees links between "Bat Boy" and today's popular vampire motifs, such as those in HBO's "True Blood" series and in the "Twilight" books and movies.

He predicts audiences will appreciate the music.

"As a cast we've collectively come to love the end of Act 1," Berg said, when the cast sings "Comfort and Joy," a song about the decisions they've made regarding Bat Boy.

The show stars Cody Oss as Bat Boy. He and two other cast members, Matt Hippen and Ken McGurran, just graduated from high school, and are "holding their own" with more seasoned cast members Maura Fergson, Beth Laidlaw and Kathy Tingum, Berg said. Others in the cast are Teran Ferguson, Gabe Gomez, Courtney Jones and Margaret McDonald.

Ben Klipfel is producing the show, with Laura Dvorak-Berry as choreographer and Natalie McComas as music director.

"Bat Boy: The Musical" will be performed at Fire Hall Theatre at 8 p.m. Tuesday through June 19 and June 23-26. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for senior citizens and students, and are available in advance at Chester Fritz Auditorium Box Office, (701) 777-4090.

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Berg recommends the show for high-school-age audiences and older.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

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