Discovering the superhero inside in the indie-rock musical ‘Lizard Boy’ at NYC’s Theatre Row

A smash hit at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with an original cast recording that has been streamed more than three million times on Spotify, Prospect Theater Company’s award-winning indie-rock superhero musical Lizard Boy, originally commissioned, developed, and given its world premiere at Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2015, is now making its NYC debut in a limited engagement at Theatre Row.

Justin Huertas (center) with William A. Williams and Kiki deLohr. Photo by Billy Bustamante.

Written by Justin Huertas (book, music, and lyrics), the imaginative coming-of-age story combines comic-book adventure, gay romance, quirky characters, camp humor, and psychological insight to tell the story of Trevor, an outsider with scaly green skin (the result of a childhood dragon attack in a playground), who doesn’t fit in and rarely goes out (except for the annual Monster Fest, where he doesn’t feel out of place), until he discovers his inner strength, resilience, and self-acceptance through the power of love. And his glowing green hand.

As directed by Brandon Ivie, with music direction by Steven Tran, the wildly entertaining and empowering three-hander, set in the present in a neighborhood of Seattle, moves back and forth between segments of reality, sci-fi fantasy, dream sequences, and expressive confessional music that advances the plot, gives insight into the characters, and highlights the transcendent voices and musicianship of the original cast of super-talented actor/singer/musicians. Individually and together, the super-trio delivers the personalities, laughs, frights, and thrills, along with the superlative vocal solos, flawless harmonies, and masterful accompaniment on a total of eight different instruments (cello, guitar, ukulele, piano, melodica, glockenspiel, percussion, and kazoo) on sixteen songs in a uniquely post-modern indie style.

Justin Huertas, William A. Williams, and Kiki deLohr. Photo by Billy Bustamante.

Huertas stars as the adorable antihero Trevor, the eponymous Lizard Boy who illustrates, then follows his dreams of a mysterious, potent, and vicious Siren, a club singer with whom he has a strange connection, and meets Cary, an equally awkward and lonely but sweet, apologetic, and accepting transplant to the city, via the gay dating app Grindr, a year after being dumped by a guy turned off by his skin (a metaphor for the lack of acceptance faced by gay people of color that can affect feelings of self-worth). Both figures are perfectly embodied by the commanding Kiki deLohr and the irresistible William A. Williams, who, with Trevor, ultimately struggle for control as they face the impending apocalypse.

The simple production design (originally created by L.B. Morse and here adapted by Suzu Sakai), with equipment trunks at both sides, a low central platform, and a slatted back wall covered with black-and-white comic-book drawings, on which colored sci-fi illustrations (by Huertas and Laura Nyhius) are projected (projection design and additional illustrations by Katherine Freer), requires audiences to use their imaginations as the scenes switch to the different locales and realms.

Kiki deLohr, Justin Huertas, and William A. Williams. Photo by Billy Bustamante.

So do the costumes (by Erik Andor), which show only a few patches of green glitter on Trevor’s skin, a tight-fitting blood red outfit for the Siren, and bright patterned underwear for the Grindr hook-up Cary. Transitions from the real to the imaginary are triggered by dramatic shifts in lighting (by Brian Tovar) – which also identify the characters (green spotlights on Trevor, red on the Siren) – and sound (by Kevin Heard), including the echoing voice of the Siren and the loud roars and crashing noise of the approaching dragons.

Who will survive and who will triumph? Find out for yourself at Theatre Row, in this thoroughly inventive, engaging, funny, and meaningful show created by the fabulous Justin Huertas and performed by a spectacular multi-hyphenate cast.

Running Time: Approximately 95 minutes, without intermission.

Lizard Boy plays through Saturday, July 1, 2023, at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $66.50-86.50, including fees), go online. Masks are not required.


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