Friday, July 1

Bat Out Of Hell – Sheffield Lyceum

Set in a dystopian future, this post-apocalyptic rock and roll musical has the audience fully invested as the characters live and relive the spine-tingling drunkenness of youth and love.  With the greatest storytelling hits of the legendary Jim Steinman and Meatloaf forefront and taking centre stage, this UK tour is setting the theatres in its path alight, and Sheffield was no exception. With its unusual live video capture on stage, which is projected onto both a screen and the windows of Falco Towers, the audience are subject to aesthetic ensemble spectacle and heart wrenching close up intimacy – a peep into a hybrid between theatre and film.

The story is set in Obsidian (Manhattan as we know it) which has floated out to sea and is tyrannically ruled by Falco played by the role’s originator Rob Fowler. Living in the abandoned subways are The Lost, a group of genetically altered teenagers who will never age. Strat, their immortal leader meets Falco’s mortal daughter, the over protected Raven on the eve of her 18th birthday, the two lead characters fall head over heels into the drunkenness of first love.     

With direction from Jay Scheib, choreography adapted by Xena Gusthart and Musical supervision and additional arrangements by Michael Reed, Set and Costume design by Jon Bausor, Finn Ross as Video Designer and Gareth Owen as Sound Designer – the creative team of the UK and Ireland Tour make sure that the reworking’s and the few minor plot changes (that hardened fans will notice) add and do not detract from the original show. After the colossal stage of the Dominion theatre, the touring production has a bigger emphasis on the acting of the characters, showing a new side to them. This is shown by a tightened and prolonged video time on the characters, particularly Martha Kirby’s Raven, who had some beautiful cinematic close up acting scenes.  

After experiencing both the previous versions of Bat Out Of Hell at the Dominion Theatre and London Coliseum, I was familiar with the musical and looked forward to seeing the new cast, and they were phenomenal, their passion for the show shone! Glen Adamson in the lead role of Strat blew the title song away at the close of the first act, what a voice. His performance was mesmerising from beginning to end. Equally a vocal match for Adamson was Kirby’s Raven. Her incredible rendition of Heaven Can Wait, to start the second act was so emotional it held the audience in silence. Zahara played by Joelle Moses brought the house down with both her renditions of Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad, what a soulfully unique voice! James Chisholm as Jagwire added the additional unrequited love story and his duet with Moses was in perfect harmony and could only result in eventually softening her resolve.

The two originators and original fan favourite cast members didn’t let the newcomers have the centre stage all to themselves. Rob Fowler as Falco and Sharon Sexton as Sloane gave a masterclass in antithesis and powerhouse rock vocals. What a mixture. Their – Paradise Behind the Dashboard Light was pure comedic genius, juxtapose this with their emotive – I Would Do Anything For Love and you have perfect casting. No wonder they are still leading the show after nearly 5 years.  A mention must go to Killian Thomas Lefevre as Tink who breathed a new depth into the character, with persistence off lib work… so enlightening.    

The once cut song of – Good Girls Go To Heaven, has been re added as the encore, with Falco inviting the audience to take out their phones and capture the cast in a wall of Steinman sound, raw, passionate and full of drama! Bat Out Of Hell is playing at Sheffield Lyceum until Sat 7th May…. It’s one ‘Hell’ of a musical!

Playing until Saturday 7th May, full details and tickets can be found at https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/events/bat-out-of-hell

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 3rd May 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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