Know Theatre’s “Lizard Boy” Lions and Lizards and Dragons, Oh My!
Review by Alan Jozwiak
Dorothy’s warning that there might be dangers along the Yellow Brick Road could easily apply to Know Theatre’s latest offering. In Lizard Boy: A New Musical, the Lizard Boy finds that what began as an innocent evening ends up with all sorts of unexpected dangers.
The Lizard Boy’s name is Trevor (Jaron Crawford) and he got this way by being doused with dragon blood as a child which caused him to grow scaly green skin. Trevor seeks someone to go to MonsterFest (a local Seattle festival of dragons and other monsters), and decides to post onto Grindr looking for male companionship. He meets Cary (Ian Timothy Forsgren). From there, the story draws inspiration from superhero comics, as Trevor encounters the rock singer Siren (Erin McCamley) who wants his blood.
If this starts to sound like a plot summary from the latest MCU film, you recognize the heavy use of comics and superhero tropes that book, music, and lyric writer Justin Huertas uses for inspiration for Lizard Boy. While the actual plot details necessitating Trevor to give up his blood are straight out of a superhero comic, Huertas does not let them overpower the story, which is often the danger when theatre pieces draw from superhero comics.
This musical shine bright when Trevor and Cary are on stage figuring out their relationship. They have a wonderful story arc that is delightful to watch. Part of this success has to do with the earnestness and innocence that Crawford brings to the role of Trevor and the wonderful physicality and zaniness of Forsgren’s Cary. Both actors have great chemistry and work off of one another beautifully. Trevor’s awkwardness matched by the almost manic manner that Forsgren tries to connect sexually with him. Forsgren shows off his comedic chops in this play many times. I love his Sexy Baby routine. It is a riot to watch.
Erin McCamley plays a bewitching Siren, whose beautiful singing voice masks her misguided intentions to help mankind. McCamley’s Siren becomes increasingly sinister as the musical progresses. Musically, McCamley is a delight; she both sings beautifully and plays a variety of musical instruments. McCamley’s voice is matched by the strong vocals of both Crawford and Forsgren.
Huertas goes for an acoustic feel in this rock musical. The actors are not drowned out by the instruments. Three main actors, along with the Musician (Wesley Carman), play a variety of instruments while singing. That is an impressive feat that allows the action to proceed from song to dialogue to song. Carman does an amazing job providing music, props, and special effects. His comic timing is also very sharp and he is able to get a laugh from the simplest of action.
Abe Underhill, a musician friend who joined me at the show, pointed out the instrumentation. He notes that their use of the ukulele for some songs made the guitar sound louder and that the electric cello played by the Musician added a deeper atmosphere to the sound by punctuating the score. I am not certain where to lay credit for those musical effects, either on Huertas’ score, music director Erin McCamley’s expert handing of that score, or director Lindsey Augusta Mercer. The end result is that the instrumentation draws you deeper into the personal world of these characters.
My only beef with the production is the fate of McCamley’s Siren character. That feels incomplete.
In short, Lizard Boy is a delightfully surprising musical which is a different take on the superhero genre. This is a perfect holiday antidote to the slew of Christmas carols and Christmas-themes stories which hit in December. It is a must-see show for everyone who wants to be entertained by strong singing and surprising plot twists. Lizard Boy runs three weeks, November 18 to December 11. Shows run on select Wednesdays and Thursdays (no Thanksgiving show), as well as regular Friday, Saturday, and Sunday matinee performances. Click HERE for tickets. Click HERE for a video preview.
Alan Jozwiak is a local playwright, UC English Composition instructor, Comics Scholar and has been with with LCT for over 10 years.