It’s been, what, a month now since I saw the first two public performances of Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell — The Musical in Manchester, UK, and I’m still struggling to find the right way to sum up my feelings. But now that the official opening night has also come and gone, I should just get to it.
For the TL;DR folks: I stark raving loved it.
When the date of the first show in Manchester was announced, we quickly booked tickets, as there was just no way we were not going to be there. And, oh my gosh, what a night it was. First, we met up with a large, international group of friends for drinks and food. Then we headed over to the theater, where we were sorta-kinda harassed into giving an interview for a promotional video:
Then, show time.
With material tracing back to Steinman’s 1969 infamous The Dream Engine, Bat – The Musical is almost 50 years in the making. The story is your basic Romeo & Juliet: Boy likes Girl; Girl likes Boy; Parents don’t approve; it’s complicated. But with layers and meaning and grit and feels. Oh. My. God. The feels. During the entire show I had feels like you wouldn’t believe.
The main reason for the feels is, of course, the music. A bunch of my favorite Steinman tunes showed up, including a take on “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” that is SO. MUCH. FUN. that even I did not mind hearing that song I don’t ever need to hear again again, a duet version of “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” that might be the definite take on the song, an intimate take on “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” (that has since been cut), a full length “Bat Out of Hell” that had the entire crowd on its feet for an end of act one standing ovation, a gut wrenching take on “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”, ‘new’ songs “I’m Not Allowed to Love” and “What Part of My Body Hurts the Most” (what a delight to finally hear those songs in a proper setting) and the final stretch of “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” into “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”. It was all classics, all the time.
As a very close second reason for the almighty feels, I have to mention the cast. They were all so freaking on, that you gotta see it to believe it. Andrew Polec in the lead as Strat has all the makings of a rock star. Christina Bennington is delightful as Raven. Sharon Sexton and Rob Fowler (the parents, Sloane and Falco) go together like two things that go together really well. Their “Paradise” and “What Part of My Body Hurt the Most” are two of the highlights of the show. Danielle Steers (Zahara) has a hell of a voice, taking her songs to places where they haven’t gone before. If Jim would revive Pandora’s Box, she should be in there. The entire cast is incredible.
And then you have the stage design, which is grandiose, and the sound design (lots of sound effects left and right) and the band and the dancing… well, actually, I’m not too sure what I think of the dancing, but there’s a lot of it and I suppose it works.
Bat Out of Hell — The Musical has received five star reviews almost across the board, and, really, must been seen to be believed. If you can make it to Manchester (until the end of April), London (June and July), Toronto (opening in October) or wherever else it stops after that, I would advise you to make the effort. It is not to be missed.
Luckily, for us, we got to see a second show as well, the very next night. Sitting all the way in the back we had a somewhat restricted view of the second storey of Falco Tower, but the projections made sure we didn’t miss much. On our flight back, we met a production sound designer who told us that the set was designed for the London Coliseum, which is much more open than the Manchester Opera House, so it shouldn’t be an issue there. An European tour after the US stops was also mentioned, but that would be 2018 at the earliest.
After the second show, we hung about the stage door for a bit, where we managed to meet quite a few members of the cast, who were kind enough to sign a poster (or two) and pose for a picture. Mr Steve Rinkoff, consultant to Mr Steinman, was also in town, and recognized me from Budapest, and we chatted a bit. Nice people, good times.
Again, I cannot understate the awesomeness that is Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell — The Musical. I’d go see it again (and again and again) in a heartbeat, but you know, life and stuff. If you got a chance, go.
- Seen live
- Jim Steinman’s “Bat Out of Hell – The Musical” on February 17 (world premiere/first public performance) and 18, 2017 at the Opera House, Manchester, UK