Thunder vs. Bulls: Five takeaways from OKC's win vs. ChicagoMillwood High School pulls basketball team off court amid COVID 'super-spreader' at Community Christian

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Spooky 'Bat Boy' at OCU

Russell McCook plays the title role in Oklahoma City University's production of "Bat Boy: The Musical." Tevyn Hill is playing the title role in some performances, too. Photo provided
Russell McCook plays the title role in Oklahoma City University's production of "Bat Boy: The Musical." Tevyn Hill is playing the title role in some performances, too. Photo provided

Oklahoma City University provided a spooky spectacle for Halloween weekend with Bat Boy: The Musical, a campy spoof inspired by the tabloid story of a bat-human hybrid discovered in a cave in West Virginia. Courtney Dibello directed the self-aware story, written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming. Her staging took advantage of the Burg Theater’s voms for the purpose of pop-up entrances and allowed the ensemble to make full use of the thrust stage. A minimal orchestra directed by Charles Koslowske adeptly executed Laurence O’Keefe’s music.

During its four-show run, four of Bat Boy’s lead performers took turns in their roles. On Saturday evening, Russell McCook starred as the cave-dwelling bat-child dubbed Edgar by the family that takes him in. McCook embraced the character’s charmingly ridiculous arc, transitioning seamlessly from a hissing, tongue-flicking, bent-limbed beast to a reformed gentleman with a hilariously posh British accent. As Shelley, the daughter of the couple that adopts Edgar, Amy Button achieved a humorously precise caricature of teenage drama blended with moments of sincere emotion, such as the hopeful duet “Three Bedroom House” with her mother Meredith (Emily Emmett). Emmett engaged honestly with her costars during scenes and songs, particularly when welcoming Bat Boy in “A Home For You.” Button and McCook demonstrated noteworthy singing ability and succeeded in balancing the difficult combination of sweetness and satire in songs like “Inside Your Heart.”

The cohesive ensemble fully committed to Bat Boy’s over-the-top style, enthusiastically executing choreography that ranged from square dance to moves from Thriller, while portraying a variety of townsfolk who intermittently revere (“Hold Me, Bat Boy”) and revile (“More Blood/Stop the Bat Boy!”) their mutated neighbor. Standout chorus members included crude rocker-wannabe Rick (Benjamin Camenzuli), shuffle-gaited mayor Maggie (Caroline Stella), Gospel-belting revival leader Reverend Hightower and heaving-bosomed Mrs. Taylor (both played by Paul Williams). However, the seemingly arbitrary choice to split the role of Sherriff Reynolds into two one-armed characters (perhaps suggesting once-conjoined twins?) proved needlessly distracting and made these characters’ aversion to Bat Boy less plausible, considering their genetic oddity.

Spare technical design elements suited the fast paced, tongue-in-cheek script. Clad in matching black T-shirts and pants, cast members frequently donned emblematic costume pieces such as Meredith’s purple apron, Maggie’s red sash, and a variety of animal masks. Though the concept effectively conveyed character switches, the pieces didn’t always seem relevant: for example, a cheap bowtie for the veterinarian and Rosie the Riveter-style headbands on farmers. By contrast, Bat Boy’s vampirish ears, skin, and teeth (designed by Chloe Chafetz) looked remarkably realistic and remained a permanent part of the character throughout the show. Travis Baldwin’s lighting design used simple elements to maximum effect, whether delineating Bat Boy’s cage with a square of light, evoking the cool colors of a forest by night, or mimicking flashes of lightning.

This seasonal satire succeeded in showcasing the talent of OCU’s students. Though Bat Boy’s run ended Halloween weekend, you can still catch the university’s black box production of Water by the Spoonful November 6-8, and to get into the Christmas spirit, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play opens on December 4 and runs through December 14. Call 405-208-5227 from 12-4 Monday – Friday for tickets, or email Tickets can also be purchased online at the Theatre OCU website: