Jun 28, 2005

"Bat Boy" Begins

After its flights to Off-Broadway and to the West End, the Weekly World News-inspired tuner by Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming, and Laurence O'Keefe returns to its origins, more or less, in L.A. 99-seat theatre. That's right folks, let the round-the-block lines form now: The first L.A. revival of Bat Boy opens at the Valley's Whitefire Theatre July 22nd. The company is Staged Souls, youngsters who last staged Studs Terkels' Working at the Whitefire.

I have to clamp down on one small error before Don Shirley does, though: The press release I just received calls this "the L.A. premiere." Well, no—I was there opening night in 1997 at the Actors' Gang's El Centro Space, when the cast featured the indispensible Deven May, Kaitlin Hopkins, Chris Wells, Ann Closs (was she a Farley then?), Don Luce, Elizabeth Tobias, Gary Kelley, and Ken Elliott. Composer Larry O'Keefe was in the front row with his fiancee Nell Benjamin; he later reported to me that the critic from another paper sat next to the couple and "hit on" Nell. It was also the night I first met Polly Warfield, then still scribing for the late Drama-Logue, which would be swallowed up by Back Stage West within the year. Polly was the only D-L staffer we would take on. The play had a very short run and to my recollection won no awards (not true; see comments). But it did first hang its wings upside down in Hollywood and we happy few were glad to witness it.

I wish Staged Souls all the best with their revival. I think the "return to its 99-seat roots" is an even better angle than "premiere." Alas I'll be out of town for the opening, but I look forward to seeing how this Bat flies.


Anonymous said...

Yes, this is far from the prémière. Look at Patricia Ward Biederman's April 28th LA Times article (LA Public Library Card required) about a controversial production at La Cañada High School, which actually prompted fundamentalist zealots from Focus on the Family to fly out from Colorado to urge the School Board to cancel the play.

Anonymous said...

And Bat Boy actually won a bunch of awards in LA, including LAWeekly's Musical of the Year, an Ovation Award for Deven May as Male Actor in a Musical, and the score won an award from BackStage West, which was given out by some dude named Rob Kendt.

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

Duh—my memory is apparently very short. I remember quite well now that first Garland Awards show, when our peerless show accompanist Larry O'Keefe had to leave the piano to accept his award for the score. Or was it the following year? In any case, I stand happily corrected.