Bat Out Of Hell: 2018 preview

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Meat Loaf musical Bat Out Of Hell returns to London for a new West End run in a couple of weeks’ time, making a new home in the Dominion Theatre. Since premièring at the Manchester Opera House just over a year ago, the show has enjoyed stints at London’s Coliseum (where it extended its summer residency due to popular demand) and the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. The new London cast have been hard at work in rehearsals for the past three weeks, but took time out yesterday evening to officially launch the show at an exclusive gig at the American International Church hosted by Planet Rock’s Paul Anthony.

Press, special guests & competition winners were treated to a selection of songs from the musical, performed live by the band and the stars of the show. Kicking off with the title song injected an immediate wave of energy and got the congregation rocking! There was no holding back from charismatic leading man Andrew Polec (Strat), prowling around, swinging his microphone, and jettisoning his vest into the pews – Christina Bennington (Raven) complemented him perfectly, stalking her opposite number across the stage and joining in with vocals.

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There really are some incredible vocalists in the company, though none more so than Polec; he has an extraordinary range and depth to his voice that seems to come from nowhere, but he also manages to be rather softly spoken, as a complete contrast. It was a real treat to hear him sing, backed by a very enthusiastic ensemble who somehow managed to throw some shapes in their quite limited performance space! This short gig was a thrilling taste of the musical talents Bat Out Of Hell has to offer.

After the gig we were lucky enough to be invited over to the show’s new home, just down the road at the Dominion, to see how the get-in was progressing. A huge amount of people are slaving away to get the massive set constructed, creating the world of Obsidian ready for show one in April – even when it’s all set up and the performances start there is still a lot of manpower required to keep everything running smoothly. With a larger cast than at previous theatres, the Dominion will be bustling over the next few months.

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A few of the creative team were there to talk about their part in bringing the show to the stage. It was intriguing to discover that Jim Steinman (music, lyrics & book) would watch each show via satellite link; he doesn’t really travel, but still wanted to give his input into how the production was coming along. This does seem rather excessive (diplomatically described as “perfectionism”) as I’m sure most writers wouldn’t insist on watching their shows this much, apart from in the very early days. I was also interested to learn their take on the ticket prices – insisting it’s worth it for the production values does sound a little superficial, and not a great consolation for people having to scrape money together while wages stagnate.

I’m still quite astonished that both Andrew Polec and Jon Bausor missed out on Olivier nominations for Best Actor in a Musical and Best Set Design, respectively. Whilst the dystopian ‘look’ is being done a lot at the moment, and it generally does have the same general result, Bausor’s design definitely draws you into this future world – and is a real feat of engineering. There are apparently no 90 degree angles on the entire set, as it’s a bit of a trick on the audience’s perspective: it makes an already large set seem even bigger than it is. As I’ve already mentioned, Polec is quite a find – I definitely wouldn’t have argued with his inclusion alongside Ciarán Hinds (Girl From The North Country), John McCrea (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), Giles Terera & Jamael Westman (Hamilton).

Particularly during the course of last summer, the show garnered a massive following who are currently All Revved Up With No Place To Go, but their Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through in just over a fortnight. Are you ready to join the ranks of The Lost this spring?

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Bat Out Of Hell begins previews at the Dominion Theatre on 2 April 2018 and is currently booking until 28 July 2018. Tickets are available online or from the box office.

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