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“It just feels like they’re part of my face now,” said Christian Nieves, who plays the title character in Las Cruces Community Theatre’s (LCCT) upcoming production of “Bat Boy” and has been wearing fake ears and teeth in rehearsals since early July.
“It feels weird not having them I feel so comfortable with the character.”
“Bat Boy: The Musical,” directed by Brandon Brown and Sage Drake, opens LCCT’s 61st season. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Aug. 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, 20 and 27, at LCCT, 313 N. Main St. Tickets are $15-$20.
“The musical is an American horror rock musical based on a June 23, 1992, Weekly World News story about a half-boy, half-bat, dubbed ‘Bat Boy,’ who grew up living in a cave in the West Virginia Hills (who was) then brought into the sleepy town of Hope Falls, which both intrigues and shocks the inhabitants,” according to the LCCT website.
In addition to Nieves, the cast includes Shari Dumond, Eric Dumond, Alyssa Gose, Bianca Castro, Peyton Womble, Ryan Biszick, Katie Mayers, Jose Luis Solorzano, Peggy Flores, Melissa Muñoz Chavez, Hugo De Billie V, Kacie Bauer, John Kulpa, Tanya Camargo and Gabriella Azollini.
Nieves said the play’s “subject matter interested me,” so he decided to try out for a part, never thinking he would be cast in the title role. He has been doing theatre for about 15 years in Colorado and Las Cruces, Nieves said – “whatever I can do to be on stage.”
“Bat Boy” is “a group effort,” Nieves said. “To say I’m the lead wouldn’t be fair.”
Learning lines and rehearsing “doesn’t feel like work,” he said. “Some people do sports; I do theatre. It’s good to take a break from yourself and escape from reality for two or three hours a day.”
“It’s fun to get back into theatre,” said cast member Peyton Womble, who plays Rick Taylor. “I’ve never played a role like this. “It’s just really interesting.”
“Bat Boy” is “not a show I imagined anyone in Las Cruces, let alone LCCT, doing,” Womble said, advising audience members to “come in with an open mind.”
Womble received the NMSU Theatre Department’s 2023 Hershel Zohn Award as the department’s outstanding senior. Womble also won awards for acting and assistant music directing for NMSU’s 2023 production of “Godspell.”
“We just kind of clicked,” Bianca Castro said of the cast in which she plays Sheriff Reynolds. “We’re very supportive of each other.
Castro played Miss Honey LCCT’s 2023 production of “Matilda.” She also regularly directs productions for A Children’s Theatre of the Mesilla Valley.”
Alysa Gose, who plays Shelley, said she was drawn to “Bat Boy” because of its challenging score and subject matter.
“There’s a key change on every page,” Gose said.
“Bat Boy” is a challenging show to do, said Melissa Muñoz Chavez, who plays Maggie and Clem.
“It’s hard,” she said. “At the end of the day, when you’ve got it, you’re sailing.”
The show also contains “a lot of heartwarming stuff,” said Muñoz Chavez, who retired last year after a long career teaching theatre at Mayfield High School. “It’s pretty dark, fantastic and funny. It has a cult classic feel to it. The music is fantastic.”
Gose starred in “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Complete History of America (abridged”) for BCTC.
Cast members Shari and Eric Dumond, who are husband and wife, live in El Paso and regularly make the trip to downtown Las Cruces for “Bat Boy” rehearsals.
“We heard the music,” Eric Dumond said. “There was something interesting about it.”
“We had worked with Brandon and Sage in “Elf” and thought it would be fun to work with them again,” Shari Dumond said. “It’s so fun. The cast is amazing.”
“It looks like a great show,” said cast member Hugo De Billie V, performing in his first production for Las Cruces Community Theatre. A graduate of the New Mexico State University Theatre Department, De Billie is executive director of Blank Conversations Theatre Company (BCTC) of Las Cruces. “It’s fun to learn a new show and let it become you. Among other shows, he starred in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at NMSU in 2020 and “Green Day’s American Idiot” for BCLC.
“We’ve had a great time,” said “Bat Boy” stage manager Crystal Milvo. She was assistant stage manager for LCCT’s 2022 holiday production of “Elf.”
One cast member described the show as cross between “Sweeney Todd” and “Hair.”