The one and only Meatloaf arrived in Manchester this week to introduce the anticipated Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical, which will premiere at Manchester’s Opera House for a seven week run in February. Louder Than War’s Katie Clare went along to hear about the new rock n roll musical.
The rock musical marks a 50 year collaboration between Meatloaf and the producer, lyricist and composer behind the Bat Out Of Hell albums, Jim Steinman and the show will contain 17 of Steinman’s immense power ballads and rock anthems including You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, Bat Out Of Hell as well as three new original number written for the show.
Released in 1977 Bat Out Of Hell, is one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling more than 50 million copies worldwide, it’s origins however took form over a number of years. One album track was written while Jim Steinman was an undergraduate at Amherst College in the late 1960s and in the 1970s, he created a musical production that was presented in workshop in Washington D.C. in 1974 and showcased many of the songs that would eventually appear on the Bat Out Of Hell album. Steinman is no stranger to musical theatre, his work previously finding its way into a workshop production of ‘Neverland’, a futuristic version of Peter Pan in the mid 1970’s. In 1996 he collaborated with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on the musical Whistle Down the Wind; producing as well as writing the lyrics to what wold become the musicals hit song No Matter What. 1997 saw Steinman taking the role as the musical composer the music for Dance of the Vampires (Tanz der Vampire) which proved to be successful both in Europe and the USA.
At the taster performance, held at the warm and charming Albert’s Schloss bier palace, was attended by producer Tony Smith who talked of the shows origins and that premiering in Manchester was a perfect match “Given (the city’s) musical history”. Meatloaf further explained “Manchester is the first place we ever played Bat Out Of Hell in Europe, at the Manchester Apollo in 1978”. The 69 year old also spoke openly about he was feeling after undergoing emergency back surgery last month, “I’m sleeping in a chair” he shared stating also that he was in pain a lot of the time he was never the less enthusiastic about his continuing friendship and working relationship with Steinman as well as the new production. Advising both the stars of the new musical “Any singer, they have to love the song, (they are performing) own the song and then the song will become part of your soul”. Meatloaf was recently presented with the Hero Award for his contribution to music at London’s Q Awards, leaving the rocker in tears, showing the performer is still all about human emotions.
The original concept of Bat Out of Hell was as a sci-fi version of Peter Pan; a story about youths who never grow up; who fight authority and live a life full of rock n roll, passion and rebellion. Bat Out of Hell: The Musical has certainly retained aspects of that original tale at the core while incorporating aspects from Romeo and Juliet and other stories of forbidden love and providing a roller coaster rock and roll theatrical fantasy. The musical tells the story of the forever young Strat and his gang, The Lost, whom wander the streets of Obsidian (which represents a post-apocalyptic Manhattan) ruled by the tyrannically malicious Falco. When Strat see Falco’s daughter, Raven, who has long been held a captive in her father’s palace, he’s determined to liberate the young girl from her wicked father’s control in what is billed as a ‘full throttle tale of teenage love, youthful rebellion and living the rock and roll dream’.
The production will be directed by award-winning opera and theatre director Jay Scheib, and as Strat, Christina Bennington as Raven and Rob Fowler as Falco take the lead roles. The teaser showcase proved to be vivacious and dynamic, as select members of the cast and orchestra performed a, medley of tracks including Dead Ringer For Love and Bat Out of Hell. The cast boasts a number of young newcomers working alongside a production team that features Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Olivier and Tony Award nominees and winners for this production, which will finally bring Meatloaf’s musical legacy and Jim Steinman’s half century old vision to life on stage in 2017.
Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical will be at Manchester’s Opera House from Friday February 17th 2017 to Saturday April 8th 2016. Performances run Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2.30pm (no matinee on Saturday February 18th 2017) .
Tickets cost £17.50 via the Manchester Opera House box office on 0844 871 3018, in person from The Palace Theatre, Oxford Street Manchester, online from the ATG Ticket website or the official Bat Out of Hell: The Musical website.
The production will move London’s Coliseum from June 5th 2017 ill July 22nd 2017 tickets are available now via the usual outlets as well as directly from the London Coliseum website.
Meat Loaf’s latest album, Braver Than We Are (Caroline International) (CD, LP, MP3) was released at the start of September, like Bat Out of Hell, all the songs were written by Jim Steinman.