Being avid seekers of new entertainment experiences, we were aware very early that Manchester had been chosen to preview the brand new musical featuring the songs of Jim Steinman and Meatloaf, named after arguably their most famous and iconic rock song, the almost perfect ‘Bat out of Hell’. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and being big fans of the Rocky Horror show, we knew of Meatloaf and his songs but (apart from the brilliant ‘Dead Ringer for Love’) owned none of his songs or even listened to them. The titles were familiar and we could probably both hum a few lines of some of them but neither of us have ever had more than a passing interest in his music. So, not surprisingly we made no plans to go and see it, but then something very strange happened…
As the pantomime closed just after Christmas, social media began to come alive with features and snippets of what was taking place behind the scenes at the Opera House in Manchester. Rumours of scenery and staging never seen in Manchester began to surface – ponds on stage, flying motorbikes (although only one member of the family has any recollection of that!). The theatre was going to be closed for just over a month as preparations and rehearsals for the brand new show took place. Local news channels reported on the preparations and everywhere you turned in Manchester there were adverts and flyers. We followed all this with interest but still made no plans to go.
As the world premiere beckoned Adam (our theatre mole) began to tell us (no spoilers) of how exciting everything was looking. Together with his colleagues they watched the first full dress rehearsal of the show and he was blown away.
As the show opened our Facebook feeds were full of friends and families attending the show and posting their comments on how much they had enjoyed it. But still we didn’t book…
March 18th arrived when Bat had been going for just over a month to rave reviews and we began to think maybe we should go and take the opportunity to see it whilst it was within driving distance. Our 2 kids (the “grown ups”) had anticipated this and March 18th, being our wedding anniversary, saw us receive two front row circle tickets to see the show on April 6th and a night at the Radisson Hotel.
So, what did we think?
Being completely honest and having seen the likes of We Will Rock You and American Idiot we fully expected to have the same theatre experience, a sorry excuse of a storyline designed to fit in as many songs as possible, but this time with songs we were completely unfamiliar with.
How wrong we were.
From the minute, you enter the theatre you are immersed in sounds, images on screens and a very interesting stage! As is usual before a show people are drinking and chatting when you suddenly notice that two cast members are sat on a motorbike on stage interacting with each other as video screens placed everywhere around the auditoriums fill you in with the back story of the city of Obsidian.
The show opens with a menacing monologue from lead Andrew Polec in the role of Strat, leader of the lost teen rebels who never age and inhabit the underworld of a post-apocalyptic city, Obsidian. The show tells the story of Strat’s obsession with Raven, played by Christina Bennington, pampered and privileged daughter of Falco overlord of the city, and her subsequent descent into the underground world of the wasted youth. It’s a dark and dangerous world staged to perfection with Harley Davidsons, totalitarian security and the wasted youth, mutants who never age after their 18th birthdays.
Whilst all this takes place, Raven’s parents Falco played by Rob Fowler and Sloane, who was played by understudy Jemma Alexander the night we attended, provide comic relief with a series of spectacular duets – most notably their rendition of Paradise by the Dashboard Light which ended in the most unusually dramatic and funny moment!
The first act ends with the eponymous Bat out of Hell - motorbikes, leather, wild dancing and the best special effects we have ever seen in a show in Manchester.
The second act begins with a scene which could have come straight from a sci fi horror film with hanging bodies and chained and shackled members of the wasted youth but light hearted relief is never far away as Danielle Steers’ Zahara and Dom Hartley-Harris’ Jagwire continue to play out their own love story with our family favourite ‘Dead Ringer for Love’.
As the musical reaches its peak Meat Loaf’s biggest hits finally make their appearance with absolute crowd stopping versions of ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ and ‘I'd Do Anything for Love.’
It’s hard to pick out a favourite part of the show, from the very first minutes through to the finale, which comes much too soon, it is just a journey through a world of raucous rock songs, exciting, innovative staging and the best assembled cast we have ever seen. Every single member of the cast acts and sings exquisitely and it is hard to single anyone out, but we must give a special mention to the fabulous Jenna Alexander, who gave the most amazing performance as Raven’s Mum Sloane. A true sign of a fantastic cast when even the understudy is of such a high standard.
So as non-Meatloaf fans we are very glad we decided to gamble on going - it is quite simply the best show we have ever seen in Manchester. Spectacular staging, which is usually only seen at the long running shows in London, and a cast of relatively unknown singers and dancers who can only be going on to the dizzy heights of fame and nightly standing ovations as the show reaches London. Book your tickets and prepare for a night of great music and surprising humour as you journey through the dark world of Obsidian.
London you're in for a treat!
Full details here: http://batoutofhellmusical.com/
A bit of this .... and a bit of that. We do like doing fun stuff and maybe some things that people of a certain "ahem" age shouldn't - but what the hell. Concerts, music, theatres and anything else that's a bit different.