BAT OUT OF HELL – West End

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London Coliseum, London – until 22 August 2017
Guest reviewer: Josh Kemp

Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell has just landed in the West End and with no intention of being a quiet neighbour in theatreland either. From the onset the audience are confronted with an immense overture of the loud rock delights that feature in this epic production. Steinman is of course best known as the co-creator of 1970s rock megastar Meat Loaf, and while a familiarity with the singer’s work will only enhance the show, it is far from a prerequisite.

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A familiar tale of forbidden love serves as the story’s template, swerving more often into rock opera  rather than jukebox musical. Imagine a gothic West Side Story replaced with the flames and ruin of a dystopian Manhattan driven by rock power ballads and one begins to grasp the tone of the show.

Leading the cast is Andrew Polec’s young Strat, who with his gang of “eternally” 18 year olds seeks to win over the love of the newly turned 18 and beautiful, Raven played by Christina Bennington. She’s been kept prisoner in a high tower by her over bearing parents (Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton) who as a duo work brilliantly off each other, delivering some of the evening’s best comedic moments.

If it’s at times slightly cheesy, the show is nothing if not true to the theatrical nature of Meat Loaf as an act – the audience on board with the campery and making the journey even more special.

It is hard to single out cast favourites, with every name on the bill delivering vocal work that is hair-raisingly brilliant. Emma Portner’s choreography is spectacular, only adding to the immensity of the experience, as director Jay Scheib succeeds in incorporating visual effects that immerse the audience further into the tale.

The songs play out with an operatic fluidity as unnecessary dialogue has been mercilessly trimmed. Bat Out Of Hell is all about the music and as one classic number follows another, so too do the audience seem to channel their own energy back to the actors. By the finale the whole crowd are on their feet, screaming to the Coliseum’s lofty rafters, craving more.

If you’re a Meat Loaf fan – the show is five star bliss, but even if you’re not just go and wallow in a night of premium rock opera. Side effects may include feet stomping, feelings of joy and acute whistling of songs upon leaving the theatre. Like a bat out of hell, get yourself tickets before they’re gone gone gone.

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Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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Jonathan Baz on RssJonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.

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