The cast of Bat Boy dropped into London from Leeds today to give a special showcase preview of the musical, which will have its West End premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 8 September 2004, following previews from 18 August 2004 and its initial UK dates at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, where it finishes this Saturday (See News, 2 Jul 2004).

Original Bat Boy, Deven May (pictured at today’s event), was joined by Emma Williams, Rebecca Vere and other members of the 13-strong company as they performed for the industry and media audience at The Venue off Leicester Square. The songs featured were “Hold Me, Bat Boy”, “Joyful Noise”, “Let Me Walk Among You”, “Inside Your Heart” and, just added to the show a week ago, the love ballad “Mine All Mine”.

For the London premiere, three of Bat Boy - The Musical’s numbers have been altered since the original US cast recording. “Mine All Mine” replaces “Inside Your Heart”, while the linked “Hey Freak” and “Ugly Freak Two” replace “Ugly Boy” and “What You Wanna Do”.

May, 33, originated the title role in both Los Angeles and New York. He told that he was excited about being in London and making his West End debut. “I love it here. I’m so happy to be here. I’ve never been to Europe or the UK before. My mom was here in the Eighties and she’s told me stories. Now I get to bring her back for the opening night.”

Set in small town West Virginia, the musical is a Weekly World News tabloid tale brought to life, the story of a half-boy, half-bat who takes up with a veterinarian's family while struggling with his self-image and thirst for blood. It has a story and book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe.

Originally seen in Los Angeles in 1997, the cult show opened Off-Broadway in March 2001, but closed the following December having been badly hit after 9/11. Despite its premature departure, Bat Boy won both New York's Outer Critics Circle and the Lucille Lortel Awards for Best Off-Broadway Musical.

Bat Boy is directed by Mark Wing-Davey and designed by Madeline Herbert, with lighting by Tony Simpson, sound by Mike Walker, choreography by Lynne Page and musical direction by Iain Vince-Gatt. The London transfer is presented by Michael Alden Productions and Robert Mackintosh and Martin Yates for West End International Ltd.

Ticket prices for Bat Boy will come in significantly lower than the £50 mark set by many other West End musicals of late. The three weeks of previews will be priced from £5 to £27.50, with prices starting at £10 during the rest of the run, with top seats capped at £37.50.

- by Terri Paddock