Friday, 31 October 2014

Matthew White & Lauren Ward star in revival of Bat Boy

A revival of Bat Boy will be staged in The Large at the Southwark Playhouse.

The production opens on 14th January (preview from 9th January) and runs until 31st January 2015. Matthew White will play Dr Parker and Lauren Ward will play Meredith Parker. Further casting is to be announced.

Bat Boy  is described as a "quirky story with a serious bite" and a "delicious twist on the modern day musical comedy." It won the New York’s Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards for Best off-Broadway musical in 2001. It received its UK premiere in 2004 at West Yorkshire Playhouse prior to a West End run at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Bat Boy: The Musical has a story and book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and arrangements and orchestrations by Laurence O'Keefe and Alex Lacamoire. 

A strange bat-child is discovered in a dank cave in deepest, darkest West Virginia. For the small community of Hope Falls, the discovery threatens to shake its moral core and the residents turn to the town veterinarian, Dr. Parker, in the hope that he will know what to do with the strange creature. Taken under the wing of Dr Parker’s wife, the boy is taught in the ways of the world and adjusts to life in this seemingly normal American family. However, ‘normal’ is merely the cycle on Mrs Parker’s washing machine. Secrets, lies and a mysterious case of dead cows leave our Bat Boy at the mercy of his God-fearing community and the shocking truth that reveals the hidden beast in all of us.

The story was inspired by an article run by American tabloid The Weekly World News; a paper of fabricated stories that many unsuspecting readers believed to be real. The creation of Bat Boy became an overnight sensation and made him a pop-culture icon.

Matthew White’s acting credits include Ragtime (Piccadilly Theatre, Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Kiss of the Spider Woman (Shaftesbury Theatre) and Les Misérables (Palace Theatre). 

As a director, Matthew’s work includes Top Hat (Aldwych Theatre), Sweet Charity (Menier Chocolate Factory and Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Little Shop of Horrors (Menier Chocolate Factory and Duke of York’s Theatre) and the forthcoming UK Tour of The Producers.

Lauren Ward originated the role of Miss Honey in the RSC’s Matilda in the West End and on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award nomination for her performance. Other recent credits include The Sound of Music (London Palladium), The Philadelphia Story (Old Vic), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regents Park), and Follies and Carousel on Broadway.

Bat Boy is directed by Luke Fredericks with choreography by Joey McKneely (choreograph the 50th anniversary production of West Side Story) and set and costume design by Stewart Charlesworth. Fredericks and Charlesworth are behind the company Morphic Graffiti, who have created critically acclaimed productions of Carousel at Arcola Theatre and Jekyll and Hyde at the Union Theatre.

The show is produced by Paul Taylor-Mills Ltd, marking their return to Southwark Playhouse following the acclaimed production of In The Heights earlier this year. A statement reads:

Paul Taylor-Mills is delighted to be working with Equity on a special agreement between both parties which will ensure everyone on the production will receive at least the National Minimum wage.

"Emmanuel de Lange of Equity said: “I’m very pleased with our Bat Boy agreement, which guarantees pay, and other important terms and conditions for the cast. It’s a dramatic improvement on the usual deal for shows like this, and I hope will make a real difference to the lives of these performers. Lots of people claim to care about the treatment of performers, but Paul Taylor-Mills has shown he means business. 

"He’s demonstrated an impressive commitment to the performers he’s hiring, and the industry as a whole, by working tirelessly to make this happen. I’m confident this can be the start of a long term relationship, and look forward to working with him in future. Equity members want to see a fairer fringe, and I am committed to tackling the endemic culture of low and no pay in theatre, but we often hear management claim it’s just not possible to pay. This agreement shows that we can work together so professional performers are treated ethically, even when they’re starting out in their careers”.

Paul Taylor-Mills said today: “Over the last few months the team and I have been working with Equity to try and find a middle ground to make sure actors are paid appropriately and that producers are also able to make the numbers work for work on this scale. We're committed to doing everything we can to provide better rates of pay for our actors and as such our break even point for Bat Boy is terrifyingly high. 

"This is a risk we are prepared to take if it means we are moving in the right direction to try and make the fringe a model that can work for everyone. This isn't a battle; this is a dialogue and requires openness, humility and a greater understanding from both actors and producers. I'm delighted to be working with Equity in a move that sees all the misconceptions surrounding the fringe demystified”.

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