Four years after the world premiere at Manchester Opera House, Bat out of Hell makes a triumphant return, bringing back a string of awards.
Unlike some other jukebox musicals, the songs make perfect sense in their placement and in moving the story along, therefore they do not feel shoe-horned in. There is good reason why the album has barely been out of the charts over the past five decades and those reasons are all on display here. Meatloaf back catalogue is full of songs that are whole stories within themselves which, alongside the powerful vocals from both him and those he has duetted with, make a perfect source of material for musical theatre.
The show is leans heavily on the Peter Pan themes that inspired the original Bat out of Hell tracks and barely disguises it. Glenn Adamson plays the lead role as Strat, one of a group named “The Lost” who are feral youths who live underground and are unable to age.
Raven (Martha Kirby) is a girl on the cusp of her 18th birthday and lives with her parents, who provide her with material goods but keep her on a tight rein, particularly from the one thing she craves – excitement. Strat provides this for her with his rock-star stylings so far removed from the plush upbringing she is used to. Needless to say, her parents are not keen on her associating with Strat so the tale of forbidden love begins.
Adamson’s Strat has more physically in common with (a much younger) Iggy Pop than Meatloaf (especially when he removes his t-shirt) but it suits the teenage waif. The vocals and performance are top quality with the blood-smeared Bat out of Hell, For Crying Out Loud and I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) displaying his power and range.
Making a welcome homecoming to the Opera House are Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, reprising the roles of Raven’s parents, Falco and Sloane, they starred in at the original launch. The chemistry between the real life couple Fowler and Sexton is still there for all to witness, especially when performing Paradise By The Dashboard Light.
Sexton is quite rightly an in-demand musical star in her own right but if you are not familiar with her work, imagine someone who matches Sheridan Smith’s comedic capabilities and powerful vocals and you’ll be close.
Fowler somehow manages to make his character at times funny, vulnerable and menacing yet believable, however he is behaving.
The mightily impressive set designed by Jon Bausor is dominated by Raven’s bedroom and a giant screen which shows live close ups of the action.
The supporting cast were also in fine voice throughout. Former The Voice finalist, Joelle Moses / Zahara and James Chisholm / Jagwire belt out a great version of Dead Ringer for Love while Killian Thomas Lefevre plays a jealous and naïve Tink.
Taking on Celine Dion’s vocals from It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, Kirby nearly steals the show with a stunning rendition that genuinely gave me goosebumps.
Well deserving of the standing ovation this revisit is a fitting tribute to Jim Steinman who passed away earlier this year.
Bat Out of Hell UK Tour is at the Opera House, Manchester from 11 September to 2 October 2021.