Bat Boy: The Musical. The character of Bat Boy is based on a recurring character in the Weekly World News -- a two-foot-high boy, found in a cave in West Virginia, who endorsed Al Gore for president and later almost died after being sprayed by a pesticide truck. In the musical, a human-sized Bat Boy is found by some teenagers, wounding one of them before being captured and taken to the local vet to be euthanized. But the vet's wife and daughter -- Bat Boy ultimately falls in love with the latter -- adopt and tame him. Bat Boy is betrayed by his animal nature, as well as by the vicious, tortured vet, who has an evil secret of his own. The show references all kinds of themes, featuring bits and pieces from pop culture and archetype alike. The child reared by beasts is a staple of myth and fairy tale, and the lonely soul standing at the edge of society, yearning for acceptance, stands as a metaphor for outsiders of all kinds: the artist, the homosexual, the exile. But there's nothing at all serious about Bat Boy: The Musical. You empathize with Bat Boy, but his misfortunes are just so damned amusing. The cast, directed by Steven Tangedal, is hilarious, too. Presented by the Theatre Group through May 1, Theatre on Broadway, 13 South Broadway, 303-777-3292, www.theatregroup.org. Reviewed March 18.
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I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change! Four talented, charming eneergetic performers work seamlessly together to create an evening of song and skit that's almost pure celebratory froth, with just the smallest undertone of genuine feeling One could wish for more bite, but the humor's exuberant and the songs clever -- and everyone needs a helping of peach soufflé now and then. In an open-ended run at the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100. Reviewed September 13, 2001.
Inventing van Gogh. Inventing van Gogh unleashes a torrent of ideas about art -- possibly enough for a dozen plays. The words are so evocative and so many, the set and lighting so lushly colored, the acting so selfless, that the experience of watching the play becomes all-encompassing. There are dozens of themes that deserve closer analysis, but the primary one involves the titanic struggle of an artist to wrench meaning from a recalcitrant world and ransom his own soul. The play begins when an unscrupulous art authenticator, Bouchard, visits Patrick, an art student, and proposes that Patrick fabricate a lost, legendary self-portrait, supposedly completed by van Gogh shortly before his suicide. As he struggles at the easel, Patrick hallucinates van Gogh -- who seems also to be hallucinating him. The play shifts back and forth in time; the two lives unfold. This is a wonderful -- and wonderfully literate -- script that avoids its subject's obvious pitfalls, is never ignorantly worshipful and deploys irony, passion and boldness. Presented by Curious Theatre through May 22, Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma Street, 303-623-0524. Reviewed April 22.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This is a slight piece, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice in 1968 as a twenty-minute-long pop cantata for a school concert. An embryonic work, it is also far less pretentious than the puffed-up, overblown extravaganzas of later years. The musical tells the biblical story of Joseph, son of Jacob, whose brothers resent the love shown to him by their father and exemplified by the coat of many colors the old man has given him. They sell Joseph into slavery. After a lot of shenanigans that include a false charge of seduction, time in prison and the practice of prophesy for the Pharaoh, Joseph becomes a big man in Egypt. Eventually, the perfidious brothers appear, begging for food. All this is leavened with musical jokes and lots of effervescent humor. Time periods swirl into each other as schoolchildren in baseball caps move among ancient Egyptians wearing golden headdresses. The cast is talented, and the members work well together. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through June 20, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, www.theatreinboulder.com. Reviewed March 18.
The Triumph of Love. A princess, Leonide, wishes to wed the prince Agis, whose throne her family usurped -- both in order to undo the wrong and because she loves him. Agis, unaware of his own background, has been raised by Hermocrates, a brilliant philosopher, and Hermocrates's spinster sister, Leontine. Disguised as a man, Leonide erupts into the household and turns it upside down, bribing the servants and coaxing everyone to fall in love with her. Agis accepts her as a beloved companion, Hermocrates sees through her disguise and courts her as a woman, while Leontine remains convinced the ravishing interloper is male. But this isn't the comic romp you might expect. There's a coldness at the heart of this text that can strike the viewer as either elegantly cynical or chilling. And it's this aspect that director Ed Baierlein emphasizes in the Germinal Stage production. Graced by an excellent cast, this show is worth seeing as an introduction to the work of an important playwright and as a witty, unsentimental take on love. Presented by Germinal Stage Denver through May 9, 2450 West 44th Avenue, 303-455-7108, www.germinalstage.com. Reviewed April 22