Theatre Review: Bat Out of Hell @ The Regent

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Pre-tour publicity claimed that Bat Out Of Hell would change the face of musical theatre for ever and that it provides a musical spectacle unlike any other.

Brave words but would the reality of the show meet these expectations? The answer is a resounding yes. This production that showcases the music of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf is big, brash but oh so beautiful and is the perfect vehicle for some dynamic rock and roll.

Played out on a stunning set designed by Jon Bauser and with superb lighting and sound that bear the work of Patrick Woodroffe and Gareth Owen respectively, Director Jay Scheib delivers a production that invades the audience’s senses. The finale to Act 1 is worth the cost of entry on its own as the rendition of Bat Out Of Hell with its superb staging accompanied by pyrotechnics sent the theatregoers off for their interval refreshments wide-eyed in wonder.

A tale that drags the story of Peter Pan into the modern era, the hero of the hour is Strat who is leader of a gang known as The Lost. This group has suffered by contracting a virus that leaves each member frozen in time at the age of 18. Strat falls madly in love with Raven who is just about to celebrate her eighteenth birthday. Strat’s love is more than reciprocated but the couple’s path in love is far from easy.

Raven has not caught the virus and her father Falco is determined that this should remain the case. His protectiveness not only causes conflict with the young lovers but sours his relationship with his own partner Sloane and it is interesting to see the relationships develop over the course of the play.

There is also conflict in Strat’s camp as Tink – who has issues of his own – has been befriended by Strat and he is concerned that this friendship will be lost. The worried young man does everything he can to sabotage the blossoming relationship.

Given a great set and an iconic score, all the components are in place for a memorable theatrical experience. It is very pleasing to say that the cast step up to the plate with a vengeance to make this a masterpiece.

Glenn Adamson was an award-winning student and he showed that he is likely to be a real star of the future with strong vocals and a performance full of energy as Strat. He makes a highly-effective partnership with Martha Kirby who combines the voice of an angel with the acting ability to portray the role of Raven’s frustrated teenage feistiness.

Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton reprise their roles of Falco and Sloane, bringing all of their experience to bear as a couple whose youthful love affair has not aged well. They have the talent to carry off the comedy moments and show off a variety of musical moods. Paradise By The Dashboard Light is a heap of raunchy fun as the pair relive the passion of their youth and this is in contrast to the poignancy of What Part Of My Body Hurts The Most as the parents realise that they may have lost their precious daughter.

Killian Thomas Lefevre does well in his role as tortured soul Tink and – like all the other cast members – showcases a great vocal talent. Joelle Moses (Zahara), James Chisholm (Jagwire), Kellie Gnauck (Valkyrie) and Danny Whelan (Ledoux) all add to the experience. A talented ensemble bring Xena Gusthart’s choreography to life and an excellent band under the supervision of Robert Emery all combine to make this an event to remember.

This is not a tribute act to Meat Loaf but rather an act of tribute to his talent alongside the work of Jim Steinman. Not a Meat fanatic? This is still an exuberant piece of musical theatre that will sweep you along in its excitement.  Like every member of an enraptured audience, I would do anything for the love of this show – and I might even consider doing That!!

The production has a running time of hors 45 minutes including interval and is on at the Regent Theatre until Saturday April 30th. For ticket details contact 0844 871 7615 or atgtickets.com/stoke. Please note that this production is suitable for those 13 and above.