As the house lights in the Lyman Center went down, a boy ran wild among the audience, howling in the dark.
The boy was Alex Malanych, sophomore English major and star of the show. Malanych said he prepared for the role of “Bat Boy” by doing a lot of research.
“It was interesting to play half bat because you don’t really get that chance a lot,” Malanych said. “So it was a lot of fun, you know, kind of feeling out what exactly it means to be a bat.”
Malanych said it all started with him being able to make a sound like a bat and thinking of what stance he should be in while making that sound. He said he also looked at pictures and National Geographic to get inspirations for his character.
“Bat Boy: The Musical” is a show about “tolerance and acceptance and how we react to different people without looking under the skin,” according to Larry Nye, director and choreographer of the show.
Nye said he chose this musical because he wanted to do a “vocal-heavy” show and wanted to highlight the voices of Southern’s theater department.
The show is run by a mix of both students and professionals behind the scenes. Nye is an assistant professor at Southern and has won awards for his choreography. James Malbin, the music director, has also worked professionally on over fifty musicals and has done two previous productions of “Bat Boy,” one in London and one in New York, according to the show’s playbill. The technical director, the set and costume designer, the light designer – all have done work professionally.
“It’s a good experience for the kids because it’s a professional experience, as much as we can make it,” Nye said. “I work professionally—everyone here works professionally—outside the school.”
Bill Adams, senior theater major and Dr. Thomas Parker in the show, said working with professionals increases the quality of the performance and brings about a different attitude.
“It really steps up the caliber of the show and it really makes us students have to step to that,” he said, “like we have to rise to their bar rather than set our own. “
Jason Moon, a freshman who plays Reverend Billy Hightower, said working on his first show at Southern was a lot different compared to his previous experiences in high school.
“It’s so much more intense and professional and everyone else will do their work, instead of being told to do it,” he said.
Malanych said he has worked in some professional theaters before, but each experience is always different.
“Professionals expect a lot: It’s their job, it’s what they do, so they know what they want and they know how to get it from you,” he said. “At times it can be really stressful, it can be very draining, but in the end, it’s always really rewarding.”
Adams also said the show had its stressors, especially being one of the lead roles in the cast.
“There are moments in the show where you have to really command all of the attention when there’s a million people on stage,” he said. “It’s probably the hardest thing any actor will ever have to do. “
Adams said “Bat Boy” was “technically the hardest show” he has done at Southern, but also the most fun.
“It is the most complex music, it is the most complex staging, the dialogue is very specific,” Adams said. “Everything in this show has to be done and timed with perfection or this show will fall apart.”
Nye said although this show took a lot of hard work, the students’ passion made things easier because “they probably put more work into this than anything else in their lives.”
“They may bitch and complain and moan and groan but in the long run, we all have a good time,” said Nye.
Comparing the cast to chemistry, Nye said, “We don’t have to worry about mixing wrong chemicals, just the wrong personalities, but we still have our explosions and our spills, but for the most part, everybody’s here because they love to be here.”
Because of the snow days, rehearsals were canceled which led the show to being produced in under four weeks, according to Nye.
“People don’t really realize how short a time four weeks is to put on a show,” said Malanych, “especially a show that has so much music.”
Jaclyn Edwards, a senior elementary education major who is part of the show’s costume crew, was in the audience during Saturday night’s performance and said she thinks that despite the snow days, the cast has managed to put the show together well.
“They were very worried about getting everything done, but I think it’s come together fantastically and we have some really great talent this year,” she said.
Jim Komola, a Southern alumus, was also in the audience Saturday night. He said he came to see the show because his old roommate was performing, and he was pleased with the show.
“It’s very entertaining and funny,” he said. “It was a different story from what I’m used to, but it was interesting, it was good.”
“Bat Boy: The Musical” is running until March 14. The show will begin at 8 p.m. March 11 – 13 and at 2 p.m. on March 13 and 14.