Bat out of Hell – The Musical, touring version
January – November 2022 (various venues)
- If I have seen the show before (during its two West End stints), what differences will I notice?
- Two of the principals – Rob Fowler (Falco) and Sharon Sexton (Sloane) – are still in situ and aside from the music are the two strongest things about this production.
- The other two principals – Andrew Polec (Strat) and Christina Bennington (Raven) are gone.
- They have been replaced by Glenn Adamson (Strat) and Martha Kirby (Raven) who are not as strong as their predecessors.
- This has led to the opening spoken word piece (“Love and Death and the American Guitar”) being passed to the Raven character which in my opinion, and in the view of audience members I spoke to in the interval, doesn’t really work and the wording of the narrative of that piece has to be changed to “fit” for the Raven character.
- The musical piece “In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher is King” is omitted. In previous productions, it has opened the second act and most importantly introduces us most clearly to the idea of the evils that Falco has previously brought upon society and why he is hated by “The Lost” and other citizens. It is likely that the extremely high stage ceiling in the Wimbledon theatre means that the caging involved in this scene, and cannot possibly be made to appear and disappear in the way it needs to in order to allow a smooth transition into following scenes. Without this our understanding of the Falco character is weakened. Other songs like “Good Girls Go the Heaven” and “It Just Won’t Quit” which have been part of the production at various stages of its run are also missing.
- The cast has fallen from a number in the mid-30s to just over 20 members. I cannot think of any of the cast who has survived from the earlier productions. There are a few standouts from the new members of the cast. I would choose James Chisholm (Jagwire) and Joelle Moses (Zahara) as the pick of the bunch. Killian Thomas Lefevre (Tink), Danny Whelan (Ledoux) and Samuel Pope (Hoffman) will need time to grow into their roles.
- The very notable physical comedy of the car rolling into the orchestra pit at the close of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is not included because of space requirements and other issues. Instead, Raven removes the engine from the car – a little too easily to be convincing, in terms of the weight of such an object – and throws it in the musicians’ area with a similar outcome.
- The closing scene where Falco falls into a pool of effluent and then rises us dressed in a white, frilled shirt and with a red handkerchief attached to his wrist can’t take place, as at Wimbledon there are no trapdoors to screen with the green goo. Instead, he is surrounded by members of “The Lost” and when he reappears from the crowd, he is dressed in a “heavy metal”-band style tee shirt and the red handkerchief. The joke no longer works.
2. If I have not seen the show before (during its two West End stints), what will I notice?
- The show is full of fun and energy
- The music is full of songs that have gone around the world and sparked the sales of multi-million copies of albums and singles – in the era of vinyl, cd, download and streaming alike.
- Of the jukebox musicals, which fit well-known songs into a story they were not original part of, this is one of the better ones.
- This is largely because Mr Steinman, who wrote the book, always visualised them has having potential for being part of a Broadway musical.
- Mr Fowler and Ms Sloane are strong enough to carry the whole production on their shoulders – not that they need to.
- The choreography of the chorus line is rather dated and perhaps a little out of keeping with the nature of the songs.
- The show as a whole is immense fun and we will be amongst the best three hours you will spend in the theatre in 2022.