Bryan Batt Press - In Theater Magazine
BURN, BABY, BURN
In Theater Magazine, November 29, 1999

"Every show needs a clown," says Saturday Night Fever's Bryan Batt, from his dressing room, located just off the stage of the Minskoff Theatre. Certainly, Batt's character Monty ("a dog" in the actor's words) - who spends his days picking up female students in his dance class and spinning records at the local discoteque, clad in the tightest of tacky outfits - would fit the bill. "Audiences want somebody to laugh at," he admits with a shrug. Luckily for Batt, even SNF's harshest critics seemed to laugh with rather than at the Broadway vet, who has walked away with some of the best reviews of his career in the least likely of roles.

 
Saturday Night Fever
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
 

Perhaps one reason for the critical and audience approval is the fact that Batt lept into the tackiness of Monty head first: "The first time I met [SNF Broadway costomer] Suzy Benzinger, we just clicked, and she said, 'How high can the platforms go?' I said, 'As high as you want, baby. Go nuts!'" Batt soon found himself cutting carbohydrates out of his diet in order to lose a few pounds to accommodate all that clinging polyester. A permed wig and fake moustache were also brought in to transform this nice boy from Louisiana into Brooklyn trash. "When I first walked around with my wig," he laughs, "everyone said I looked like John Oates from Hall and Oates, or even Yanni!"

For Batt - who first came to New york theatergoers' attention as former Cat Darius, the emotional centerpiece of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey on stage and screen - Saturday Night Fever has offered a rare opportunity to create a role in a Broadway musical. Although Batt has worked steadily since Jeffrey, his biggest jobs have been as standby for other leading men - Alan Campbell in Sunset Boulevard and Douglas Sills in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Of course, he also earned a Drama Desk nomination last season for his razor-sharp spoofs of Barry Weissler, John Davidson, and Mandy Patinkin in Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back!.

These days, Batt is settled in at the Minskoff (his fourth appearance at the theater: "Maybe I'll get a plaque in the men's room," he quips), and he's a bit amazed at what he's doing on stage eight times a week. "When I was back in my 'serious actor' mode, if someone had told me that I was gonna make money on Broadway singing 'Disco Duck' and 'Disco Inferno,' I would have laughed in their face," he says. "But I'm loving every second of this." - Paul Wontorek