When I think back to my childhood, there are three albums that really stick in my mind: Queen’s Greatest Hits, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell. All three of these albums were played regularly at home when I was younger, with me learning the words to my favourite tracks on each of the CDs. At the start of this calendar year, the world sadly lost a musical legend in Meat Loaf. I remember hearing his most notable tunes on BBC Radio Two on the following day and being reminded of what a talented singer and musician he was.
The musical named after his iconic album ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ is at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury this week, as part of the production’s national tour. I was thrilled to receive a press night invitation to this jukebox musical that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. The evening started with a spectacular pre-show motorbike display, courtesy of a local Harley-Davidson organisation. The group positioned their bikes in a row in front of the theatre, before switching on their headlights and collectively revving their engines. It definitely got people talking, with members of the audience pausing to watch the bikes before heading inside and it was a great way to kick off the show’s run in Canterbury!
About the show
Created by world-renowned songwriter Jim Steinman, Bat Out of Hell is a theatrical celebration of all things rock and roll. The tracklist features 19 of Steinman’s hits, with a significant proportion of them made famous by Meat Loaf. The show is 2 hours 35 minutes in length, including a short interval. The production debuted in 2017 and is currently touring the UK until November 2022.
Bat Out of Hell is a dystopian love story set in the city of Obsidian (formerly Manhattan). Obsidian is ruled by the ruthless dictator Falco and his soldiers, much to the despair of outsiders to Falco’s regime. Falco has a daughter named Raven who is turning 18 at the start of the production. Raven lives a sheltered life in Falco Towers with her mother Sloane, under the watchful eye of her dangerous father. She longs to step outside the walls of the tower and meet with ‘The Lost’: a group of people who cannot age past the age of 18, after an unfortunate chemical war incident and earthquake 25 years prior.
The community members are reminiscent of J. M. Barrie’s Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Raven takes a liking to The Lost community leader Strat after a chance encounter, much to her father’s disapproval. The pair fall head over heels in love very quickly and wish to run away together, away from her father and the oppression of life under Falco’s command. The character of Strat has parallels with Peter Pan and Raven is comparable to Wendy. A rock and roll romance set against the bleak backdrop of futuristic New York, when watching Bat Out Of Hell you realise that the characters of Obsidian will do anything for love and family.
I simply could not write a review of Bat Out Of Hell and not comment on the incredible soundtrack. Full of rock anthems and power ballads, the principal characters gave me goose bumps with their renditions of Steinman’s musical creations. Strat’s vocals in the titular song at the end of act one were so powerful, with actor Glenn Adamson bringing the house down with his performance.
As much as I adored the energy of the rock songs in the production, I was pleased to see a softer side to the cast’s voices in the emotional numbers towards the end of the musical. The romantic tracks ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ and ‘I’d Do Anything For Love’ were beautifully performed by the principal cast, showcasing the diversity of their voices. The female lead characters: Raven (Martha Kirby), Sloane (Sharon Sexton) and Zahara (Joelle Moses) each really came into their own in ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’, hitting some glorious high notes.
The atmosphere inside the Marlowe auditorium could only be compared to an intimate gig or concert. With the toe-tapping songs, rocking band and Harley-Davidson bike being revved around the stage, the spirit of rock and roll was certainly alive in Kent for the evening’s performance. The cheers at the end of each musical number and standing ovation that the cast received in the finale were evidence of how good a time everybody in the audience was having.
Going into the theatre yesterday evening, I really wanted to love Bat Out Of Hell, with Meat Loaf’s albums being some of my favourites from my childhood. Thankfully I was completely wowed by the production and couldn’t wait to get home and start preparing my review. The show was a perfect example of how musical theatre can be brought to wider audiences, appealing to fans of rock and roll music and avid theatre goers like myself.
The Marlowe team and creatives behind Bat Out Of Hell* arranged such a fantastic press night for us all. The bike display before the show was an unexpected treat and I am very grateful to the theatre for the opportunity to see such a popular show in action. Playing at the Marlowe until Saturday 26th February, there are a handful of tickets remaining for the last few performances, which can be purchased directly through the theatre’s website. An energetic show filled with legendary music, audiences will not be disappointed. Finally, may Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s music be enjoyed for many years to come!
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx
*Our tickets and programme for Bat Out Of Hell were gifted in exchange for a review of the performance.