Forgive me father for it has been 24 years since my last confession.
I have never listened to a single Meat Loaf album. I know I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), I know the intro to Bat Out Of Hell, and I must admit I prefer Celine Dion’s rendition of It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.
Yet here I am at the Dominion Theatre for the re-opening night of Bat Out Of Hell The Musical after it’s recent run at the Coliseum (London, not Rome. Obviously). It’s been so soon since it left, it feels like the cast just popped to the shops for more leather buckles and got back in time for dinner.
It has been the hottest day of the year and even my eyelashes are sweating. Do I want to be sat in a room with 2000 other hot and sweaty people? We shall see. I find my seat and sit down gently so as to not lift my armpits and be accused of chemical warfare. Before the production officially starts, various characters can be seen plodding about the stage in a tease of what will come, then out of nowhere, the strum of a guitar and dimming of lights. So it begins!
I shan’t take you through the show line by line – this is journalism not observation. What I will say is Bat Out of Hell is big. The songs are big. The set is big. The effects are big. And based on the tight leather trousers, other things may be above the national average.
If you were to resort to Wikipedia you’d discover that the show follows the stories of Strat and Raven; he, the leader of the immortal “Lost”, and her the daughter of Falco, the ruler of Obsidian (a post apocalyptic Manhattan – otherwise known as “Manhattan once President Trump finds his big red button”).
The lead is played by Andrew Polec – his undying energy throughout is impressive and necessary. His character’s image has a whisper of Final Fantasy, and his voice is surprisingly powerful when considering his skinny frame. Those lungs can more than handle the epic nature of composer Jim Steinman‘s tour-de-force tracks; each one a mini-opera in itself. What’s equally as wonderful is how commanding Polec is as a spoken-word actor in non musical-moments, like the opening poem Love Death And An American Guitar.
However despite his faultless performance, I found myself drawn to the characters of Falco and Sloane – the show’s tyrannous villain and his long suffering wife. During the Paradise By The Dashboard Light set piece they are both hilarious and compelling, and the effects are maddening. Keep your eye out for the car – not that you can miss it. Stevie Wonder himself would pick up on that one.
Danielle Steers, who plays Zahara deserves a special mention. What. A. Voice. Adding to that, her presence on stage is always exceptional.
Whist the show doesn’t have heaps in the way of storyline, by the second half it’s clear that the main feature is the music – that is how the action is carried. When you have a catalogue of 13 albums, including many iconic tracks pulled together from 50 years worth of genius writing by Steinman, why sacrifice them for script? (I would do anything for a storyline, but I won’t do that!). Just imagine if this were the Cliff Richard show – it would have to be split into two parts like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Though the police raid and BBC helicopter scene would’ve had wonderful whispers of Miss Saigon!
‘Musical’ may feature in the title but this ain’t your standard West End fair, it’s more playful and convention breaking than that. Operatic and gigantic in scope, tonally it feels more at home in the B-movie arena – a mid 1980s John Carpenter flick maybe. And the blend of live action and live-video projected onto a huge screen only heightens the retro-post-apocalypic aesthetic. The placement of the screen does require to you to book a central circle seat so as to not miss anything.
Barmy, overblown and stark-raving-insane. This is a must see. And that’s coming from a casual Meat Loaf listener. But to save you from disappointment – they don’t do Hot Patootie/Bless My Soul.
Hey, maybe I am a Meat Loaf fan?
It’s all coming back to me now.
#OneYearOfTRASH Bat Out Of Hell Competition T&Cs:
1) This entitles the prize winner to two tickets to Bat Out of Hell the Musical at the Dominion Theatre.
2) Prize to be redeemed by Thursday 26th July 2018.
3) Valid on Monday to Thursday performances only
4) Tickets are subject to availability.
5) No cash alternative.
6) Travel to and from the theatre and any additional expenses incurred are not included within this prize.
The competition closes at 23.59 on Tuesday 19th June 2018.