Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical

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Over 50 years in the planning and boy is it worth the wait, Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical explodes into life from the minute you enter the theatre, the looming set is immense, the transformation of Manchester’s Opera House to accommodate this ground breaking world premiere is astonishing. The set designed by Jon Bausor uses every inch of height available; it is vast, intriguing and innovative. If you weren’t sure before you certainly are now, Bat Out Of Hell is without doubt the biggest theatre event of the year.

Set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city we meet Strat (Andrew Polec) the forever young leader of The Lost, a tribe of wasted youth who will never grow old. Classed as mutants by Falco (Rob Fowler) the oppressive ruler of Obsidian, The Lost live for love, freedom and of course rock ‘n’ roll. Falco’s daughter Raven (Christina Bennington) gets a taste for life on the dark side when she meets Strat on the eve of her eighteenth birthday and from that moment on things will never be the same again.

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Telling Strat when he sneaks into her bedroom at Falco Towers, “If you don’t go ‘over the top,’ then how are you going to see what’s on the other side?” Raven and Strat begin their adventure and take the audience on the ride of their lives. The talent on stage is staggering, Andrew Polec embodies absolutely everything you would want from a rebellious, tribe leading, rock God, he is wild, wired, dangerous and utterly mesmerising. His performance is quite simply incredible, strutting and swaggering he draws you in and completely seduces you, the chemistry between him and Christina Bennington (Raven) is pure magic, their relationship a total meetings of minds. They perfectly illustrate the angst and heartache of forbidden love, Bennington’s vocals are heavenly, at first seemingly delicate and pure she soon morphs into the ultimate rock chick, the power in her voice is astonishing, we soon realise the wide-eyed innocent daughter of Falco and Sloane (Sharon Sexton) has been waiting to be corrupted as she discovers a whole new kind of freedom with Strat.

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Of course Strat and Raven’s relationship was never going to be accepted by Falco, who sets about destroying what they have found, trying to end things before they have even had chance to begin. Rob Folwer as Falco is exceptional, brooding and intimidating; he has great stage presence and a superb rock voice. Falco’s seemingly long suffering wife Sloane (Sharon Sexton) delivers a fine performance, constant cocktail in hand she is so bored with this life yet so tied to it she is lost in a seriously wretched place. Their scenes together offer some real stand out moments, Paradise By The Dashboard Light is a riot, raunchy, wild and superbly staged, they deliver the narrative exquisitely. Both give a deeply heartfelt performance of new song What Part of My Body Hurts the Most, emotional and moving the quality of the writing is so good even for a new song it feels strangely familiar.

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Danielle Steers and Dom Hartly- Harris as Zahara and Jagwire give knockout performances, powerful and emotionally charged their interpretation of Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad is insanely good, they really feel the music and deliver Steinman’s lyrics with real heart and grit. Their second act performance of Real Dead Ringer For Love is bursting with attitude and sass, backed up by a magnificent ensemble who give absolutely everything to this production.

This is a piece that proudly showcases the talent on stage; Director Jay Scheib really has created something magical here. Cutting edge and dynamic choreography from Emma Portner compliments Steinman’s lyrics and Scheib’s direction perfectly and adds even more attitude to already explosive performances. Special mention also must go to Giovanni Spano (Ledoux) and Andrew Patrick-Walker (covering as Blake) who together with Dom Hartley-Harris deliver a strikingly heartfelt rendition of Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are.

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The staging of this production is truly something spectacular, designed by Jon Bausor, it’s a struggle to find words to do it justice, the set continually evolves to deliver more and more intricate layers and surprises you just didn’t see coming, add to this the innovative use of multiple screens and live filming projected over almost every inch of the set, it’s quite literally a multimedia masterpiece, it feels as if the set is alive, I’ve never experience staging like it, it’s such a visual feast. The beauty of this multi-layered, multi-levelled set is that it allows every person sat in any seat within the theatre to feel part of the production, in effect breaking down that third wall, you are scooped up into the action and fully immersed in the experience. Costumes from Meentje Nielsen combined with video design from Finn Ross and lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe further confirm the sheer quality of this production.

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Bat Out Of Hell is astonishingly good theatre, immersive, incredible and utterly mind-blowing, there is no doubt in my mind that Manchester has witnessed history in the making tonight. This is a journey that is only just beginning, the success of this show is unlimited, a stunning production with the most sublime of casts, a monster of a hit, which oozes world wide appeal. Spellbindingly epic, an absolute must-see!

Verdict: Undoubtedly 5 star theatre, bold, dynamic and sexy as hell! *****

Tickets available here; http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bat-out-of-hell/opera-house-manchester/

 

Preview – Bat Out Of Hell- The Musical

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Exactly one month to the day Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical will be all revved up and ready to take to the stage at the Manchester Opera House for the first night of an impressive seven week run of what is set to become one of the biggest musical theatre events of the year.

Originally called Neverland, and based on a futuristic version of Peter Pan which writer Jim Steinman originally work-shopped in 1974, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical has been many years in the planning. Set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland we meet Strat (Andrew Polec) the forever young leader of The Lost who has fallen for Raven (Christina Bennington), who has been locked away in the palace towers by her Father Falco (Rob Fowler), the oppressive ruler of Obsidian. The show takes us on an adventure of romance, rebellion and rock ‘n’ roll and features many of the monster hits we all know and love including You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Bat Out Of Hell, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as two previously unreleased songs, What Part of My Body Hurts the Most and Not Allowed to Love.

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We were lucky enough to be treated to a preview from the rehearsal rooms and boy is Manchester in for a treat! The large cast are absolutely full of energy and sounded incredible, Polec led the charge as we were given a taste of what to expect when the show premieres at the Opera House on 17th February. Directed by award-winning theatre and opera director Jay Scheib, Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical is no doubt set to become a theatrical triumph , vibrant, sassy and full of attitude, the cast delivered each song with passion and were brimming with energy and the self-assured confidence you’d wish for from any rock star. The cutting edge and dynamic choreography of Emma Portner compliments the soundtrack perfectly and adds even more attitude to already explosive performances.

Sitting down with director Jay Scheib and producers David Sonenberg, Michael Cohl, and Tony Smith we heard more about the work that has gone into bringing this production together and the commitment they each have to ensuring the dream of seeing Bat Out Of Hell turned into a musical becomes not just a reality but an exciting and vibrant theatrical experience. Discussing the appeal and longevity of the music Scheib said, “You can have one perspective on the songs as a teenager and that perspective can shift as you move into different stages of your life, some songs get old where these songs just get different and their meaning changes, so they are always relevant”. David Sonenberg noted also that “Steinman first wrote the song titles then challenged himself to write a song that lived up to the title, he is a brilliant lyricist, just amazing at writing melodies”.

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It’s clear to see why Andrew Polec was given the lead role; the minute the music starts he is transformed into Strat, totally focussed and committed to delivering a performance Meatloaf himself would be proud of, if there is such a thing as having ‘it’ then Polec has got ‘it’ in bucket loads. It’s clear to see why the producers knew so quickly when Polec arrived at the open casting in the United States that he was “Born to play the part”, his casting in the role couldn’t be more perfect, Tony Smith states “You have to have an incredible voice for these songs, he’s not blown away by the scale of these songs, he’s amazing” Beautifully complimenting Polec’s strutting and rebellious Strat is Christina Bennington as Raven, she has the most beautiful voice and a wide-eyed innocence that’s just waiting to be corrupted by some serious rock ‘n’ roll, Bennington describes Raven’s meeting with Strat as a meeting of minds, “…she craves the love of her parents but feels suffocated by it, once she meets Strat she feels there’s the chance of a whole new kind of freedom but, she has an internal battle as she is torn between the love of her parents and her love for Strat”.

There is some real star quality involved in this new musical, the heartfelt delivery of new song What Part of My Body Hurts the Most by Rob Folwer and Sharon Sexton gave me goosebumps, emotional and touching the quality of the writing is so good it would be right at home on any of the Bat Out Of Hell albums. Fowler describes the songs as “…totally relatable, they tell the story for you, they’re full of honesty, even the new songs feel so familiar” a true sign of excellent writing. Likewise Danielle Steers and Dom Hartly- Harris give a powerful, emotionally charged performance of Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad that left me desperate to see more. Manchester audiences may also recognise Andrew Patrick-Walker, most recently seen in Hair at Hope Mill Theatre, Andrew is thrilled to be returning to Manchester with such an exciting and ground-breaking show.

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There is some serious weight behind this production, the sets and costumes promise to be spectacular with the building of the set beginning at the Opera House almost 6 weeks before opening night it is a show of enormous scale. Following our discussions with the cast and creatives it is obvious that this show is going to be nothing short of epic, the care taken to ensure this production is of the highest standard is clear to see, the opportunity to get to know Bat Out Of Hell as a theatrical piece is going to be an absolute joy, roll on February!

Tickets are available now via http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bat-out-of-hell/opera-house-manchester/

http://www.batoutofhellmusical.com

17 February – 29 April 2017

Opera House, Manchester

Performances: Mon-Sat at 7.30pm, Thurs & Sat at 2.30pm (no matinee on Sat 18 February)

Tickets: from £17.50