London has hosted the long-awaited World Premiere of Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell The Musical, and it’s like nothing London has seen before. The home of The English National Opera, The London Coliseum, certainly hasn’t – it’s been transformed in to a futuristic Manhattan with a stage spilling out into the audience and bursting at the seams with theatrical spectacle. Imagine the passion and energy of We Will Rock You, then multiply it by ten and you’re somewhere close to Bat Out of Hell.
All too often the ‘juke-box musical’ format tries too hard to shoehorn some kind of plot around the untouched well-established songs. With Bat Out of Hell The Musical the plot is fairly predictable and rather thin, but no one cares. The audience are just revelling in all its wonderment. Those classic songs for a start, instead of being rolled out one by one in concert fashion, they are carefully placed and cleverly blended to the situation.
As Strat, Andrew Polec is a Rockstar, he sounds and looks like he should be performing to sold out arena crowds as the frontman of the hottest band in town. Whether belting out the classics like ‘Bat Out of Hell’ or caressing some of the more tender numbers; the way he moves, the way he sings, his entire performance, is utterly electric.
But, as an audience we are doubly blessed, because performing right alongside the super talented Andrew Polec, is the equally talented Christina Bennington as Raven. Giving one of the most haunting and beautiful renditions of ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ that I have ever heard.
Sloane (Sharon Sexton) and Falco (Rob Fowler) have the privilege of performing the iconic Paradise By The Dashboard Light (my favourite Meatloaf song if you can’t tell) and just like the rest of the show it’s full on, over the top, spectacle and awe.
It’s a large cast and they give it their all, Aran MacRae is incredibly sweet and touching as Tink, while Daniele Steers as Zahara is strong and powerful. The entire ensemble deserve credit for an astonishingly strong display, supported by mesmerising choreography from Emma Portner.
The staging is nothing short of ingenious, the dystopian world of Obsidian is fully brought alive through a complex and ever shifting set from Jon Bausor. Powerful sound design and an incredible use of live video make this production, directed by Jay Scheib, a visual feast.
Ain’t no doubt about it, this is one big budget, epic extravaganza with a strong sense of the cinematic in the staging. London may not have seen anything like Bat Out of Hell The Musical before, but the worry is that it will never see anything like it again.
So, during this short, albeit extended run, audiences should be prepared to do anything (even that!) to get their hands on a ticket and like me, leave the theatre literally glowing (yes, like the metal on the edge of a knife).