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Review Roundup: Jim Steinman's BAT OUT OF HELL Opens on the West End


Bat Out of Hell

Jim Steinman's Bat Out of Hell - The Musical is a romantic adventure about rebellious youth and passionate love, set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland. Strat, the forever young leader of The Lost, has fallen for Raven, daughter of Falco, the tyrannical, ruler of Obsidian. The show made its world premiere tonight at the London Coliseum and the critics are weighing in.

For the stage musical, the legendary and award-winning Jim Steinman has incorporated iconic songs from the Bat Out of Hell albums, 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.

Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical has book, music and lyrics by Jim Steinman, direction by Jay Scheib, choreography by Emma Portner, with musical arrangements and supervision by Michael Reed, set design by Jon Bausor, costume design by Meentje Nielsen and Jon Bausor, video design by Finn Ross, lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, sound design by Gareth Owen, orchestration by Steve Sidwell, casting by David Grindrod Associates and musical direction by Robert Emery.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Mark Lawson, The Guardian: As the setting is a dystopian city ruled by a dictator - broken TV sets fizz under a graffitied lattice of charred concrete - the show also brings to mind We Will Rock You, the Queen musical that, along with Mamma Mia!, probably made a Meat Loaf equivalent inevitable, and Steinman matches Freddie Mercury and Abba in writing ear-lodging songs full of character and action. But because Steinman wrote for the stage before his recording career - and provided lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1996 musical Whistle Down the Wind - the show is more organically dramatic than most jukebox musicals.

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: Running to an overlong three hours, and cramming in greatest hits (and not so-great hits), Bat Out of Hell won't win awards for reinventing the musical. Set in a dystopian future of generic oppression and mutinous youth it recalls We Will Rock You, but the book is even weaker than that long-running Queen cash-in, spinning out a yarn involving a Romeo-like renegade called Strat, and Raven, a princessy type confined to a high-rise boudoir by controlling, frustrated parents.

Tim Bano, The Stage: A rebellious streak runs through this batty show. It's in the teenage characters fighting against authority and against adulthood, in the unconventional and rhapsodic structures of Jim Steinman's knock-out songs, made famous by Meat Loaf. The show's even rebelling against its own venue, this bonkers, hell-raising spectacle profaning the traditionally staid home of English National Opera. But it feels like the relentless, thrumming power chords and shrieking voices in Jay Scheib's production are blowing away the Coliseum's cobwebs. They're pumping it full of revolution and rock 'n' roll.

Anna Dack, The Up Coming: In a blaze of fire and with the piercing screech of burning rubber, Bat Out of Hell: The Musical has roared full throttle onto the West End stage in this rock'n'roll adaptation of Meat Loaf's greatest hits. A meticulously crafted production, 40 years in the making from writer Jim Steinman, each scene subtly tips its hat to the iconic singer himself - from the wistful waving of a red handkerchief to dramatic unbuttoning of a frilled white shirt - making it one of the most enjoyable and fan-pleasing performances on stage this summer.

Daisy Bowie-Sell, WhatsOnStage: Bat Out of Hell? Bat shi*t crazy more like. Jim Steinman's jukebox rock musical is like nothing you're going to see anywhere else right now. The story embodies everything Steinman's '70s and '80s mad, slightly camp rock music did with not a hint of shame. Everything that made Meat Loaf awful but also really great is wholeheartedly here, from the love-wracked crooning, the light-goth look, the rock, the roll to the uber sex appeal.

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: The plot is likely to mystify anyone who's not an ardent devotee of both Meat Loaf and J M Barrie - a smallish constituency, I'd guess. At its heart is Andrew Polec's rough and charismatic Strat, the leader of a group of rebellious teenagers called The Lost. They lurk in an underground retreat, hiding from sinister overlord Falco. Strat is infatuated with Falco's daughter Raven (Christina Bennington), and when he eventually makes a major play for her we're deep into Romeo and Juliet territory, albeit with the emotional volume dialled up well past eleven.

Anne Treneman, The Times: Andrew Polec plays Strat with such energy that he is like a bat out of hell. He's got leather trousers with sparkly stripes up the side, a torn shirt and eyes lined with kohl. He's also got a Harley-Davidson (gold, as you ask). This is Polec's debut and he is sensational, exuding confidence, making his cartoony character work.

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out: The one undeniably top-drawer thing about it all is Polec: he has a bug-eyed, borderline feral intensity that invests Bat Out of Hell with a genuine sense of danger. If he'd been some sort of sensitive innocent type it might have been the death of the show, but he invests it with the thrill of genuine unpredictability, and he's no slouch in the vocal range.

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