As previously tipped (See The Goss, 23 Jun 2004), Bat Boy - The Musical will transfer to the West End after its four-week UK premiere season at Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse, which finishes 17 July. It will open on 8 September 2004 (previews from 18 August) at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where it’s initially booking up to 30 October.

Producer Michael Alden told that the 1,400-seat Shaftesbury – which went dark on 26 June with the closure of Thoroughly Modern Millie (See News, 3 Jun 2004) - would be specially reconfigured Bat Boy. “The goal in re-creating the space is to really make the show an event,” said Alden, “to make it feel intimate and exciting, with great sightlines and a great, accessible pricing structure.”

Ticket prices for Bat Boy will come in significantly lower than the £50 mark set by many other West End musicals of late. Cheaper seats will be available at £10 during the three weeks of previews and £15 during the rest of the run, with top prices capped at £37.50.

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. Songs include "Apology to a Cow", "Ugly Boy" and "More Blood".

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.

In the UK, American Deven May, from the New York production, reprises his performance in the title role, with Emma Williams ( Award-nominated for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) co-starring as love interest Shelley Parker. Bat Boy is directed by Mark Wing-Davey and designed by Madeline Herbert. The London transfer is presented by Michael Alden Productions and Robert Mackintosh and Martin Yates for West End International Ltd.

- by Terri Paddock