Touring – reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre
There aren’t many touring shows where fire, confetti and belts that melt your faces off are the key selling points, but that’s what makes Bat Out of Hell such a unique and refreshing addition to the touring circuit.
The jukebox musical, with book, music and lyrics by Jim Steinman, has had various incarnations since it originally opened in Manchester in 2017. From London to Germany to New York, it’s now entertaining audiences across the country with its larger-than-life performances.
This certainly isn’t a show that relies on its book, which is sometimes hard to follow and all in all is very bare and ridiculous. Instead, it is helmed by the stellar effects and outstanding solo and ensemble performances that make it such a high octane and enjoyable show.
Choreography adapted by Xena Gusthart is snappy and incredibly tight as well as being very fitting for the apocalyptic-place-like-no-other Obsidian where the musical is set. This is further helped and developed by Jon Bausor’s grungy set and Patrick Woodroffe‘s lighting which both shocks the audience into watching as well as literally highlighting more tender moments on stage.
Of course, over the various productions, there have been a number of changes. Perhaps most noticeable with this current iteration, is the smaller cast and cut-down set. Despite being somewhat noticeable if you’ve seen the show before, these cuts don’t mean there’s any less oomph or energy. In many ways, it’s a show which thrives off of its audience, with many loyal fans supporting it in every possible way. And despite it sometimes detracting from the performers on stage, it’s quite nice to see and hear people so engaged and uplifted by a performance after so long not having live theatre. It’s really a show which encourages community and enjoyment, two things we could all use a little more of.
Bat Out of Hell is very much cast led and excels due to its incomparably talented performers who are full out in every moment. As the caged daughter Raven, Martha Kirby is excellent, showing both a tempestuous side and a softer, head over heels in love side. Alongside this her vocals are extraordinary, with a number of stand out moments including Heaven Can Wait and All Coming Back to Me Now. Matha’s stage presence is magnetic and it’s just a 10/10 performance all round. Alongside her as the male lead is Glenn Adamson who is bold and boisterous with his performance. He brings a kind of frenzied side to Strat and is utterly engaging, as well as giving vocals that soar and shine.
Another change from past London productions is the reworked placement and character of Valkyrie who becomes one of the main trio of The Lost. As Valkyrie, Kellie Gnauck is a complete powerhouse who steals the show several times and adds a lovely new dimension to many songs thanks to her fine tuned harmonies. Bat Out of Hell veterans Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton continue to triumph and delight as Raven’s parents, Falco and Sloane. Their comedic timing is marvellous, as are their vocals and ability to switch moods on a dime. It’s a joy to watch them perform together and with the other cast members. What Part of My Body Hurts The Most is a real high point of the show.
Everything is brought together by the ensemble who are electric and so in sync with one another. What’s also great about this show is how you can watch various mini plot lines unfurl throughout and the ensemble especially do a great job of highlighting anxieties, relationships etc… within the group.
If it’s a sophisticated narrative you’re after, this categorically isn’t the show for you, but if you want to escape reality, hear top notch vocals and have an evening that’s truly like no other, then fly down to see Bat Out of Hell on tour.
Bat Out Of Hell plays at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 29th January before continuing its tour
photo credit: Chris Davis Studio
‘Stellar effects & outstanding solo & ensemble performances’ mean @RealJimSteinman’s @BatTheMusical continues to pack a high-octane punch on its new UK tour, says @RewriteThisWeb. ★★★★★ #BatOutOfHell #theatrereviews #touring