West End review: Bat Out of Hell – The Musical

Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical is a romantic adventure about rebellious youth and passionate love, set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland.  It gets the full 5 out of 5 stars from me. I personally loved everything about this musical: the compelling dystopian story, the rock music by Meat Loaf, the performances, the choreography and the special effects. It’s a shame it ends in January 2019 because I would have happily gone back to see it again. Read my full verdict here.


 

The story 

The musical starts with biker and rock fan Strat recalling his first encounter with rock and roll (‘Love and Death and an American Guitar’) before his DNA froze causing him to remain 18 forever. The story is set in the dystopian city of Obsidian, once known as Manhattan. Strat and his friends are all frozen in time. They are Tink, Blake, Ledoux, Jagwire, Zahara and like to call themselves ‘The Lost’. They  protest outside Falco Towers, the residence of the Obsidian’s tyrant Falco. His only teenage daughter, Raven, falls for Strat, but she lives like a recluse and resents her dad for forbidding her from going outside. Strat also falls in love with Raven from a magazine with her image on it. Raven eagerly asks his mum Sloane about ‘The Lost’, so her mother tells her that a chemical warfare and an earthquake occurred in this city 25 years before. Those teenagers were trapped in a tunnel filled with poison which didn’t kill them, but froze their genes causing them to remain 18 forever. Sloane encourages Raven to not make the mistakes she made and that she wants her to be free and to be able to fall in love.

One night Strat manages to go into Raven’s room and takes her on his motorbike and they escape, but Raven has second thoughts about going with him because she is afraid her father might kill Strat. Strat then drives his motorbike at full speed and has a crush that severely injures and seemingly kills him. Raven breaks down upon hearing this.  ‘The Lost’ are still shocked to have lost their leader and they all admit that their lives are a mess. Meantime Zahara secretly looks after Strat who had miraculously survived his accident. She transfuses Raven’s blood into Strat, enabling him to become mobile again. He then reunites with Raven. To celebrate their leader’s comeback, ‘The Lost’ welcome him “back from the dead” and hold a “wedding”. They attempt to consummate their relationship, only to be interrupted by a jealous Tink (Strat’s gay friend) who urges Strat to send Raven back to Falco. Strat refuses, and Tink vows to get rid of Raven while lamenting his love for Strat. He goes to Falco and offers him a deal: he will take him to Raven, in exchange that no one gets hurt and that he will leave ‘The Lost’ alone after he gets Raven back. When Falco bursts in at The Lost’s party there’s a scuffle, which abruptly ends with Tink’s accidental death. Raven is left with no choice but to return home to Falco Towers where she furiously blames her father for ruining her life.

Six months later, realising she is still in love with Strat, Raven rekindles her feelings for him, and so does Sloane when she returns to Falco to rekindle their marriage. Raven suddenly has second thoughts about their relationship, because after being apart for so long, she’s realised that they cannot be together. When Strat asks her why she reveals that unlike him, she is not frozen. She will age normally while he remains young forever. Strat tells Raven that he doesn’t care if she gets old, because she will always be 18 in his eyes and he will always love her no matter what.

The finale is great and not corny at all: Strat and Raven, Falco and Sloane, and Zahara and Jagwire make vows to their respective partners. During this song, Falco is forced at gunpoint into a lake by Zahara, where he emerges several seconds later dressed in a rock style outfit.

The trailer 

WORLD PREMIERE OF BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL

Watch my short clip of the all cast finale!

 

The verdict 

Bat Out of Hell is part musical and part gig. Meat Loaf’s songs are energetic and well performed by all artists. Unsurprisingly when you have great original music, the show cannot be bad. The special effects are contemporary mixing digital projections, visible video cameras, laser lighting and various traditional props like a Cadillac, Harley Davidson and glitter shots. I enjoyed the contemporary feel created by the live cameras on stage that projected some of the close action on a big screen turned towards the audience. 
The references to Peter Pan’s Neverland story are clear. The Lost is a tribe of young people eternally frozen at the age of 18. The character of Tink reminds of Tinkerbell. On the other hand there are also references to West Side Story / Romeo and Juliet in the love story between Strat, a rocker biker and Raven, a rich girl whose parents hide her in a high tower.

Meat Loaf’s 43m-selling album Bat Out of Hell is full on both in the songs and in the involvement of motorbikes that reminds us to the cover art of the first Bat Out of Hell album. 

One of the coolest characteristics of Steinman’s songwriting is to choose a phrase from everyday slang such as Bat Out of Hell, You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth that turns out to be so creative in the contest of this musical. Bat Out Of Hell became one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 50 million copies worldwide.  16 years later, Steinman scored again with Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which contained the massive hit I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)

For the stage musical, the legendary and award-winning Jim Steinman has incorporated iconic songs from the Bat Out Of Hell albums, including You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Bat Out Of Hell, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as two previously unreleased songs, What Part of My Body Hurts the Most and Not Allowed to Love.

This musical is a great example of how rock music can be visually showcased with the aid of a compelling storyline, thrilling effects and effective use of technology on a stage. 

The cast of Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical at the Dominion Theatre is led by Jordan Luke Gage as Strat and Christina Bennington as Raven, with Rob Fowler as Falco and Sharon Sexton as Sloane.  Also starring are Alex Thomas-Smith as Tink, Danielle Steers as Zahara, Wayne Robinson as Jagwire, Giovanni Spanó as Ledoux and Ryan Andersonas Blake.  

Bat Out of Hell is still on for a few weeks. I would not miss it for the world. The Dominion production is currently booking until 5 January, 2019.

In the cafe’ at the bar you can jump on the famous motorbike from Meat Loaf’s album!

Just a final warning for parents of young children: this show is not suitable for children younger than 15 due to sexual references. 

Tickets are on sale now from  www.nederlander.co.uk/batvip  / www.BatOutOfHellMusical.com

Dominion Theatre

268-269 Tottenham Court Road

London W1T 7AQ

Performances:  Mon-Sat at 7.30pm, Wed & Sat matinee at 2.30pm

Tickets:  from £15.00

Box Office:  0845 200 7982

Booking until 5 January 2019

Running Time:  2 hours 40 minutes (including interval)

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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