Bat Boy: The Musical

I’m not sure what’s more surprising. That there is a Bat Boy play or that it’s been around since 2001 and this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Yes, it’s Bat Boy: The Musical, the cult hit based on tabloid stories in the Weekly World News about a child with needle teeth and Spock ears who supposedly was discovered in an Appalachian cave in 1992. In the stage version, the demonic-looking half-breed is taken in by a friendly family that tries to teach him to live in civilized society, only to discover that West Virginia isn’t quite as civilized as they hoped.

The story is filled with salacious shocks that might make even Jerry Springer blush, but it also has a serious, even mythic side. It uses the trashy tropes of the tabloids to make a universal statement about prejudice and acceptance.

“It’s My Fair Lady meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” said Damon Dering of Nearly Naked Theatre, who has been frothing at the mouth to direct Bat Boy for years. This week Dering gets his wish, closing his company’s season with an Arizona-premiere production.

Bat Boy, after winning the Outer Critics Circle Award for best Off Broadway musical in 2001, has become a popular choice at theaters around the country. There’s even a movie in the works, with John Landis in the director’s chair, so it’s a good bet the play will be a hit in Phoenix as well.