The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    He lives!

    Deep within a cave near a small West Virginian town lives a creature neither man nor bat, terrifying to behold and destined to be plastered on the pages of The Weekly World News for years!

    Yes, the ‘unholy’ abomination of nature known to the world as Bat Boy will make his way to the stage of Kjer Theatre in “Bat Boy: The Musical.” The production is set to open at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Additional performances will run at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and a matinee will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The show will also run at 7:30 p.m. March 8 to 11.

    The award-winning musical is adapted from the book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming. It took home the 2001 New York Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off- Broadway Musical.

    The story is based on an article originally published in 1992 by tabloid pioneers Weekly World News. The story claimed the discovery of a mutant boy in a West Virginia cave, and the public reaction to the “scientific find” sparked a Bat Boy craze, resulting in numerous articles devoted to the magazine’s hybrid hero.

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    Junior Ben Seidman, who plays Sheriff Reynolds, said the production’s unique background makes for an interesting work of rock ‘n’ roll theater.

    “This is not your typical musical,” Seidman said. “It’s definitely an experience.”

    He said production began on Jan. 25, and the rehearsal schedule has been “brutal, very rigorous.” The cast has been rehearsing five nights a week, moving into six to seven nights a week as they neared tonight’s debut.

    The production required a lot of work from both theater and music students, who combined to put together what Seidman called a very intricate musical.

    “It was an interesting mix of people that haven’t worked together before,” he said. “It’s been crazy because there is so much that goes into this.”

    But why Bat Boy? Director Richard Nimke said the character is represented in the musical as a working model of a victim of persecution.

    “He becomes a symbol for anyone who has ever felt discrimination based on what they look like or who they are,” Nimke said. “Ultimately, it’s about how society reacts to what they don’t find attractive.”

    The off-Broadway hit wasn’t something that Nimke thought could be taken seriously when Seidman first introduced it to him.

    “He was a little wary of it at first . I told him about it, and he said ‘that’s really strange,’ ” Seidman said with a laugh.

    Seidman said when he first saw the original production in New York, he knew it was something different. When Nimke finally saw it performed for himself, he was
    also convinced.

    “It just seems at first to be totally ridiculous,” Nimke said, referring to the tabloid character turned theater centerpiece. “When I saw it, I realized how much it has to say.”

    Behind the grotesque appearance of Bat Boy (as played by junior Max Athorn), there is a message of acceptance, Seidman said. Brought into a closed-minded community by the family of a veterinarian, Bat Boy is introduced to a world that is not eager to accept him.

    “It makes some pretty bold statements about how we label people,” Seidman said. “Bat Boy could easily be replaced with anybody who has ever been discriminated against.”

    Since Weekly World News first introduced him, Bat Boy’s escapades have documented him as a morally complex character. Stories which have regularly appeared in the publication’s pages have documented Bat Boy stealing cars one week and joining the army to fight Saddam Hussein and tyranny the next.

    Nimke said in the musical, the townspeople may be the ones that are morally confused.

    “They discriminate against him based on his physical appearance, and that’s what causes him to lash out violently,” he said.

    But the social premise of “Bat Boy: The Musical” doesn’t lend it to pigeonholing. Nimke said the story’s entertainment value is more than apparent, citing the musical’s “working mix of humor and horror.”

    Whether or not the musical depicts Weekly World News’ cave- dwelling hero as the next icon of pop culture rebellion is in the eye of the beholder, but Seidman said the
    atypical production is in a world of
    its own.

    Between drugs, sex and a defiant outcast, it may be the prototype for an incendiary musical, Seidman said.

    “It blends a lot of different aspects,” Seidman said, “but in the end it really is a rock show.”

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