Review BH Bat Out of Hell 2022
The smell of the engine oil the roar of the bikes
It was a hot summers night in Bristol.
And the air was filled with the smell of engine oil and the roar of Harley Davidson engines.
A cavalcade of leather clad bikers was the precursor of the much-anticipated arrival of the award winning musical Bat Out of Hell to Bristol Hippodrome.
And what a ride it was!
High octane from the very start, it was clear it was going to be a night to remember for all fans of the Dallas born performer, who started off his career playing in local bands in Los Angeles.
The Jim Steinman musical is a classic boy meets girl story of teenager Raven, who at just turning 18 wants to explore the world outside of the Falco family who live in the desolate wasteland of Obsidian.
She meets and falls in love with Strat, a rocker ‘bad boy’ and leader of The Lost, a group of rebellious, forever-young 18-year-olds whose DNA is permanently frozen following the ‘chemical wars.’
But true love, of course, is never easy and there is one thing standing in her way - her father Falco - Obsidian’s tyrannical ruler.
Falco, played by Rob Fowler, will do anything to protect his precious daughter from falling into the clutches of The Lost.
Admittedly, it’s not an original story and one that has been told a million times over, with the show ditching biography and instead hanging on Meat Loaf’s catalogue for this Romeo and Juliet meets rock n roll tale.
Aside from the plot, it is the staging and musical energy of this show which is the real winner.
An exceptionally cleverly designed set and a live video camera on stage - the first time I have ever seen that used in a live production - allows the story to be told in a multi-faceted way. It’s clever and thrilling for an audience to watch.
Songs from the album which the show takes its name from flow through the performance and are interwoven into the story.
Following in the footsteps of the powerful performances of Meatloaf is not an easy task, but the vocals were just stunning - particularly those from Rob Fowler (who wowed the audience in his pink budgie smugglers) and our home-grown talent, Bristol born Martha Kirby.
Other mentions must go to Franziska Schuster, Falco’s long suffering wife Sloane and Joelle Moses (Zahara) and James Chisholm (Jagwire) who had their own little love story playing along in the background. All had great chemistry on stage.
A huge nod must go to the live orchestra too. Its performance was quite simply faultless.
I think Meat Loaf himself, who died earlier this year, would have been impressed. I enjoyed every minute. And what was also evident, was so did the cast.
They utterly rocked it and by the end had the audience on their feet.
Bat Out of Hell is two hours of fun and escapism, peppered with humour and moments of cheekiness, for anyone who loves the theatre and loves rock music.
I would tell you how the story ends.
But even though I would do anything for our readers….
I won’t do that
Go and see it for yourselves.
Nailsea People editor Carol Deacon was sadly on a prior engagement, an outing to Bradford on Avon with the Friends of Tithe Barn, so missed the Bristol opening night but is booked to see show later in the tour.
Lots of consideration was given to whether she could get back in time from the trip to the historic Wiltshire town however any chance of that went out the window when the coach had a puncture and the return was delayed by a couple of hours
Luckily waiting in the wings, Nailsea People had two able understudies, ready and raring to go – a hot rock chick and her sophisticatedly cool BFF.
The BFF sidekick is the one of infamous fame who ordered a schooner of sherry mid-morning on her first visit to Scally's, the legendary Weston biker bar which we hear is being turned into a cocktail lounge!
Not only to this pair get to see and enjoy the show they got to witness more than 80 bikers from the Great Western Chapter and Bridgwater Chapter on a celebrated drive past.
Bat Out of Hell title comes from the 1977 debut album by the late great American rock singer Meat Loaf and composer Jim Steinman. It is one of the best-selling albums in history and this musical is being performed nationwide to rave reviews.
It brings to life the legendary anthems of Steinman and Meat Loaf while telling the story of Strat, played by musical star Glenn Adamson, as the forever young leader of rebellious gang The Lost.
Keeping open mind but not sure if the lead with blond hair in video works for me as I like my males more swarthy.
Anyway Strat falls in love with Raven (Martha Kirby), the beautiful daughter of the tyrannical ruler of Obsidian aptly named after the igneous rock that forms when molten material cools rapidly! That is cool.
It promises to be a top, high-energy night of rock and roll, as the cast thunder through the powerhouse renditions of the hits I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, Dead Ringer For Love and Bat Out of Hell.
Northern actor Glenn Adamson, of American Idiot fame, said: "When Jim (Steinman) wrote a lot of this, he always intended for it to be a musical, I hadn't realised that, but now listening to it knowing that, of course these were always intended to tell a story, the songs are so theatrical!”
Bristol rock chick Martha Kirby, who has appeared in Grease and Rags the Musical, is the love interest who gets to strut her stuff.
Glenn and Martha are joined on stage by original leading cast members Rob Fowler (Mamma Mia!, Bat Out of Hell) as Falco and Sharon Sexton (Mamma Mia!, Bat Out of Hell) as Sloane, plus Killian Thomas Lefevre as Tink, Joelle Moses as Zahara, James Chisholm as Jagwire, Kellie Gnauck as Valkyrie, and Danny Whelan as Ledoux.
Also in the cast are Laura Johnson as Kwaiden, Jamie Jukes as Markevitch, Rebecca Lafferty as Scherzzo, James Lowrie as Denym, Rory Maguire as Astroganger, Amy Matthews as Vilmos, Samuel Pope as Hoffman & Alternate Strat, Luke Street as Hollander, Leonardo Vieira as O’Dessasuite, Beth Woodcock as Spinotti, & Jayme-Lee Zanoncelli as Goddesilla.
Bat Out of Hell – The Musical won the Radio 2 audience award for best musical at the Evening Standard Awards and was nominated for eight WhatsOnStage awards, including Best New Musical.
Directed by Jay Scheib, choreography adapted by Xena Gusthart, with musical supervision and additional arrangements by Michael Reed, set and costume design by Jon Bausor, original costume designs by Meentje Nielsen, original wig designs by Linda McKnight, video design by Finn Ross, lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, sound design by Gareth Owen, orchestration by Steve Sidwell, and UK tour casting by Anne Vosser it promises to be an electrifying show.
The UK & Ireland Tour of Bat Out of Hell – The Musical is produced by David Sonenberg, Michael Cohl and Tony Smith, with executive producer Julian Stoneman.
Bat Out of Hell dedicates this tour to the memory of Jim Steinman, who sadly passed away on April 19, 2021.
Meat Loaf died on January 20, 2022, at the age of 74.