Most people feel a little bit odd at some point in their lives. However, very few can say they suffer from inhabiting lizard skin. That is the scenario set up for Diversionary Theatre’s production of a tribute to comic books-Lizard Boy: The Musical.
As a boy, a gay superhero fan, Trevor (Justin Huertas), was cursed during a nightmarish field trip. Following a disastrous romantic breakup, the adult Trevor becomes an outsider who rarely leaves his Seattle apartment.
Trevor decides to get out of his funk by creating a Grindr account. He begins dating Cary (William A. Williams), whose happy go lucky attitude positively affects the misfit. Their decision to attend a Monsterfest music celebration, ends up having unexpected consequences.
Lizard Boy, which premiered last year at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, could not exist without Huertas. He is the writer, composer and co-music director. Huertas has no trouble playing an instrument one second and acting in a comedic dialogue heavy scene the next. The same could be said of Williams and Kirsten DeLohr Helland, who portrays the mysterious rock singer, Siren. All three stars have addictive chemistry whether singing together or performing in a dramatic scene.
The original director, Brandon Ivie, working with the Seattle ensemble, stages a fantasy coming of age one-act experience. Ivie builds to otherworldly situations by depicting Trevor’s world as one similar to our own. Imaginative situations that eventually happen do not feel forced, because Ivie makes the conflicts that Trevor is initially afflicted with feel real and honest.
Erik Andor’s costume for Trevor humanizes the protagonist’s unusual condition. His green and blue clothing creates a unique look that does not come across as silly or overly symbolic. The only outfit that is larger than life is Siren’s red heavy attire. Helland looks the part of the pessimistic singer.
Ron Logan’s set features an intimate concert-like atmosphere, which is appropriate for the indie-folk-rock musical numbers. Contributing to the visuals are Logan and
Joe Huppert’s projections, which incorporate illustrations from Huertas. Images are not excessively used, and are included primarily in the introduction and fantastical sequences in the story.
Revealing the different ways that Lizard Boy honors heroic fictional crime fighters will lead to major spoilers. Just know that Huertas’ passion for comics is evident from his numerous references to Spiderman.
People who aren’t into superheroes are going to find plenty to appreciate. Each character is comprised of different layers that are usually revealed through song.
Several of the tunes such as “Trevor’s Song” and “A Terrible Ride” cover a range of emotions. Trevor and Siren have psychological pain, which they express in these melodies. The latter’s solo stands because of Helland’s vocal range and Curtis Mueller’s rhythmic lighting. His contributions are hard to describe in words and can only be properly experienced at the theatrical venue.
Lizard Boy has its share of comedy numbers as well. “Recess,” turns Trevor’s fateful school outing into a twisted kazoo heavy modern nursery rhyme of sorts.
Since premiering in Seattle, revisions were added to Huertas’ script. Even with the changes, there are still some elements that should be altered for future versions of the creative night. For instance, an extended flashback that occurs when
Trevor meets Siren is randomly used in the plot. Trevor’s reminiscence is an important segment, and would make more of an impact if the scene is introduced earlier in the adventure, right before he attends Monsterfest.
While viewers are quickly invested in Trevor’s life, his attitude can seem a little too dour. He uses his condition as a crutch to not live a healthy existence. Eventually, Huertas acknowledges the outcast’s personal flaws, which add complexity to Trevor’s personality.
As Trevor’s journey continues, Huertas takes more risks and expands the scope of Lizard Boy. It’s exciting to watch the Seattleite’s universe turned upside down in the small University Heights theatrical space.
Huretas’ large ambitions pay off in the San Diego premiere of Lizard Boy. In the future, Diversionary might want to consider bringing in more out-of-town works of entertainment.