I owe my love of Meat Loaf to my dad who downloaded the album for me and said I had to listen to it as it would be “part of my education”. Little did I know that the music I had fallen in love with was originally destined to be a musical. Bat Out of Hell is Jim Steinman’s genius creation. Initially intended to be on the stage but with little interest in the idea, the music was instead turned into an album performed by Meat Loaf. Steinman’s concept was to write a rock’n’roll update of J M Barrie’s Peter Pan, and now, his vision has been realised.
The post-apocalyptic story follows Strat (played by alternate Simon Gordon in the performance I saw) leader of The Lost – a group of young people frozen at the age of 18 – who only has eyes for Raven. Raven is the daughter of Falco and Sloane who keep her locked away safe from the tribe of the eternally young. The story falls in-between Peter Pan and Romeo and Juliet, with the whole production being one big rock-fuelled fairytale.
The dystopian narrative is enough to sink your teeth into and I felt an instant connection to the characters who were belting out my favourite hits. Of course there has to be tragedy, and it strikes throughout the musical as both Raven’s father and Strat’s best friend Tink seek to separate the young lovers. The forbidden romance prevails, however, through music, death, a strange yet hilarious baptism, and a large ensemble of crazily-choreographed dance.
Basically, I loved this show. Steinman’s 40-years-in-the-making musical is an instant hit. Moments I was particularly fond of were Danielle Steers’ (who plays Zahara) incredible and soulful rendition of ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’, the emotional exchange in ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’, and of course, the titular song ‘Bat Out of Hell’. Simon Gordon’s Strat was heroic and inspirational, and alongside Christina Bennington’s angsty Raven, the duo were phenomenal. It is rare that you see a couple portraying forbidden love do it so believably, and all whilst breaking the stereotypes of musical theatre romance. Other stand-outs include Rob Fowler as tyrannical father Falco and his sassy and independent wife Sloane, played by Sharon Sexton. This show contains jaw-dropping levels of talent.
Occasionally throughout the production the noise becomes too intense and some of the lyrics are lost which is a shame, and the choreography is vaguely reminiscent of High School Musical synchronised arm swinging. In fact, although it is blatantly obvious that this ensemble is necessary for voice and to fill the huge stage, I would argue that their random explosions of movement detract from the bigger numbers and add an odd dynamic alongside the principal cast. Nevertheless, I was laughing hysterically at some of the choreography – whether it was intended or not.
Bat Out of Hell certainly packs a massive punch, in both storyline and music, it is a production that is full of theatricality and operatic vigour. Steinman and Meat Loaf’s incredible contribution to rock’n’roll continues its legacy in this magnificent musical.
Get your tickets from https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk/bat-out-of-hell-tickets – don’t miss out!