Theatre Review: BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL – Opera House, Manchester


BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL is a revved up and racy Romeo and Juliet story that appeals to not just Meat Loaf fans but musical and theatre lovers alike

Jim Steinman’s rock and roll theatrical fantasy BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL – the inspiration for one of the most iconic albums in history – has burst onto the stage of Manchester Opera House and will hit the London Coliseum later in 2017.

Set in an apocalyptic future where the young mutate and will be forever young, is a father struggling to keep his daughter from meeting the same fate. As with all love stories the young fight the old to be together in a Romeo and Juliet complete with balcony kind of way, that has disastrous consequences.

Exploring themes of love, jealousy and loneliness and directed by Jay Scheib, BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL features 17 of Meat Loaf’s greatest hits including I’D DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE, PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT, YOU TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH (HOT SUMMER NIGHT), DEAD RINGER FOR LOVE, TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD, BAT OUT OF HELL and two new Jim Steinman originals written for the show. Meat Loaf’s songs are always very theatrical in nature and so lend themselves to a theatre environment very well.

Beginning with a Meat Loaf favourite, the staging is phenomenal, mixing video media and projections with fantastic props and beautifully imaginative special effects that surprises you throughout. The onstage camera operator is a little distracting at times, leaving you waiting for their part to be explained, although the visual media does help the story and break the fourth wall for those in the audience, giving a more intimate view of the action.

The understudy Benjamin Purkiss delivers a powerful performance as Strat and his voice really makes the songs come alive. Christina Bennington has the voice of a (horny) angel and floats around the stage very gracefully as Raven. Elsewhere Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton as Falco and Sloane mirror their daughters romance brilliantly, offering light and shade that draws the story along. Danielle Steers and Dom Hartley-Harris are also worth a mention for bringing the Meat Loaf classic TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD to life.

There are some brilliant moments of comedy, with a lovely nod to traditional theatre when the music conductor and a few musicians emerge from the stage, and Meat Loaf is never far from the proceedings with subtle handkerchiefs and flashes of red splashed around.

As a new show, it is weird to be in a theatre where the audience already knew the words and sang along, dancing in their seats and having an immersive experience without actually being immersed. All in all, BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL is highly recommended. Even if you are not a fan of Meat Loaf you will enjoy the theatrics of it all and it is sure to leave a DEAD RINGER for musicals at least.

5 out of 5 stars

BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL runs at the Manchester Opera House until 8 April 2017.