Theater Review By Sandi Durell
Having not been weaned on Jim Steinman nor Meatloaf, the experience of seeing the West End jukebox production of Bat Out of Hell, jamming in as many larger than life rock tunes as humanly possible in two hours and 40 minutes (with intermission) was a feat beyond belief as it featured Meatloaf’s larger than life tunes in a discordant dystopia aided and abetted by Steinman’s libretto. And, I actually knew some of the songs . . . i.e. “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”
The sound decibel level was enough to knock and rock you out of your seat into the Obsidian, the new world Manhattan post Armageddon in which The Lost – the mutants who will forever remain 18 years of age – now reside in the underground tunnels of New York City. Run by a corrupt and very wealthy police chief Falco (who even has a building named after him), he desperately tries to protect his little girl Raven who is itching to join up with this herd. As she tosses and turns about in her baby girl bedroom, eager to throw herself at the leader of the pack, a rebel with a cause, Strat, mayhem in the form of motorcycle madness, smoke, explosions, major video projections, graffiti and sex pervade in this new dystopian society.
In order to feature all the songs, Steinman has contrived a love story (yes, there’s always a love story) – boy Strat (a lean, attractive highly energized Andrew Polec – think Tommy) sees girl Raven (a laid back, somewhat low energy and pouty Christina Bennington) – their eyes connect and they are smitten. He must and does rescue her from her tower in the sky as they sing “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.”
The big reason I wanted to see this, however, was for Tony Winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and The Angry Inch) who never disappoints and in this case as Raven’s Mom, Sloane, involved in a troubled marriage to Falco (a rough and tumble Bradley Dean) is experiencing her own angst. Her impeccable soaring voice is always a delight (even when the sound levels almost drown her out). And the ballad “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” duet between Mom and Dad is worth a few chuckles.
The Lost move tirelessly in their robotic, wild ultra physical adapted choreography (Xena Gusthart). Special mention to standouts Danielle Steers as Zahara and Tyrick Whiltez Jones as Jagwire in his tireless pursuit of her, and an entire cast that knows no bounds directed by Jay Scheib in their many times tongue in cheek portrayals. The wild, notable costuming and double decker set design is created by Jon Bausor with lighting by Meentje Nielson. Multi award winning Finn Ross is responsible for the larger than life videos.
There are numerous creatives that have made Bat Out of Hell a living, breathing . . . hell of a production. But I do want to mention cast member names who are all amazing: Avionce Hoyles, Paulina Jurzec (the gal on camera projection who follows the actors around for close ups), Will Branner, Lincoln Clauss, Kayla Cyphers, Jessica Jaunich, Adam Kemmerer, Nick Martinez, Harper Miles, Erin Mosher, Aramie Payton, Andres Quintero, Tiernan Tunnicliffe and Kaleb Wells.
Expect to hear “I’d Do Anything for Love,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” and the roaring show title song. The larger than life vocals can and do knock you overboard.
Photos: Little Fang
Bat Out of Hell – The Musical runs at New York City Centre (131 West 55 Street) thru Sept. 8 www.nyccenter.org