MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

Bat Out of Hell – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Reviewer: Ruth Jepson

Book, Music and Lyrics: Jim Steinman

Director: Jay Scheib

The entire city is burning. You can see the flames like the inside of a mad jukebox. Lost Boys stalk the streets, those jungle markings on their chests…

Jim Steinman first conceived the idea that would eventually become Bat Out of Hell in the mid 60s, a dream finally brought to stage in 2017. A dystopian retelling of Peter Pan, where a bunch of young anarchists have been frozen forever at age 18 following the Chemical Wars. Despotic head of the police state, Falco (Rob Fowler) regularly clashes with leader of The Lost, Strat (Glenn Adamson), who inevitably catches the attention of his daughter Raven (Martha Kirby). A dangerous love story is set in motion to music made famous by Meat Loaf.

Bat Out of Hell is jukebox musical meets 80s B Movie. The plot is delivered through very brief and slightly hammed up acted sections, but really everyone is there for the music. The cast do not disappoint in that respect. Lead Adamson appears to be channelling not Meat Loaf, but Eurovision famous Italian rockstars Måneskin, which makes for a wonderfully manic, highly sexual Strat who belts out the songs as if he owns them (the fact no one is trying to ‘be Meat Loaf’ is highly refreshing actually, ensuring the show will appeal to both his fans and those new to the music). Adamson is very ably matched by Kirby, and the chemistry between the pair ripples from the stage, especially in You Took the Words Right Out of my Mouth. However for sheer star power we need to look to the adults of the piece, Falco and wife Sloan, real life couple Fowler and Sharon Sexton. Their duets are the best part of the show – if Paradise by the Dashboard Light doesn’t have you crying with laughter, What Part of my Body Hurts the Most will have you in floods. Doubly impressive is the fact that Sexton does the whole show in high heels, dancing and acting her heart out, while also clearly heavily pregnant (and it is wonderful to see!). It is not just the leads that sell the show, the ensemble deserve a shout out too. Every person on the stage is engaging, and clearly has their own story and moment to shine.

Fans of the original 2017 run may be disappointed to find that there have been changes made for the touring version of Bat Out of Hell. A few songs are missing, some plot points and set pieces have been amended or removed entirely, but the sheer spirit of the show makes up for these. Live projection emphasises both the B Movie and dream like feel, although it is slightly out of synch which is off putting during some dramatic pronouncements. This is, however, a very minor complaint when the entire auditorium is being so thoroughly rocked by this fantastic performance. The late Steinman and Meat Loaf must be so proud.

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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