What: Bat Out of Hell – The Musical
Who: Jim Steinman et al
Where: Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road
When: May 2018
The Bat out of Hell phenomenon dates back to the release of the Meat Loaf album of the same name in 1977. Bat out of Hell – The musical opened in Manchester, England in February of 2017 before transferring to London in June of the same year where it was housed at the Coliseum in the West End. In October 2017 it transferred to Toronto, Canada before returning to London, England and its new venue at the Dominion in April of this year.
Whilst producer Todd Rundgren says that he saw the original album as a kind of pastiche of the stylings of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band circa Born to Run, Jim Steinman always saw these songs as being part of a musical production. Hence most of the storyline arises naturally from the songs and this is no “jukebox musical” in the style of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” where you have a grab-bag of songs and try to build a story around them. This is back where the songs originally belonged. Some of the songs were written later (I Would Do Anything For Love, for example) so the story line needs to be coaxed a little but by-and-large this feels natural.
I’ve previously given an overview of the production during its previous London stint here:
It merely remains for me to repeat my recommendation and update some matters concerning the production.
First just to echo my earlier positive critique. I’m not a huge fan of musicals but whether the genre usually works for you or not, you will probably find something to enjoy here.
If you have seen it before then there have been a few tweaks which might take you back again.
- I would say in general that the choreography is better through out.
- The voice of Andrew Polec (Strat) continues to mature. You will be aware of this from the opening moments of “Love and Death and an American Guitar” where his voice is much more fulsome.
- The other major players: Christina Bennington (Raven); Rob Fowler (Falco); Sharon Sexton (Sloane) and Danielle Steers (Zahara) are all here.
- The dance sequence done by the chorus line during Paradise by the Dashboard Light has been improved upon.
- Wayne Robinson holds his own as the new Jagwire and Alex Thomas-Smith improves on the previous actor in the role of Tink
- A traditional “rock band” are added to the staging during Deadringer for Love which makes the whole scene less like that video from the early ’80s.
There are a few changes that I found regrettable:
- It Just Won’t Quit disappeared towards the end of its previous run in the UK and seems to be gone forever.
- Sloane is given a couple of overblown expositions which are designed to help the audience keep up with the narrative but are really rather unnecessary.
And one thing that hasn’t changed is the way the motorbike crawls across the stage during the title song. It would be better if it remained stationary and the actors pantomimed the movement. We have imagination and the way it is just looks silly.
This is a musical that I hope will be around for the long-haul. Unlike the bike rider in the title song it won’t be gone when the morning comes – but tickets just might. Snap them up while you have a chance.