Bat Boy: The Musical is a relatively modern musical, with a book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming and music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe. It premiered in 1997 and was based on a 1992 Weekly World News story about a half-boy, half-bat found living in a cave. I somehow managed to miss it when it was at the Southwark Playhouse, so was pleased to see that it was getting a student performance. I saw it performed by the London College of Music at the University of West London.
It’s the story of a young boy living wild in a cave, discovered by a bunch of young cave explorers and ending up in the care of Meredith and Shelley Parker, wife and daughter of the local vet. Against all the odds and great prejudice, the pair manage to care for him and ‘humanise’ him by teaching him to read and live like one of them. However, the supposedly respectable Dr. Parker has a secret, and it’s only a matter of time before it is discovered, threatening everything Meredith, Shelley and the ‘Bat Boy’ (now given the name of Edgar) have worked for.
Bat Boy has some good tunes but not great lyrics, and it’s not as clever as it wants to be, but it still has something interesting to say about small town life, the concept of Christian charity and how public opinion can easily be swayed. The young cast do a good job with the material, and altogether the show is thoroughly entertaining, with an unexpected twist.