Friday, 20 April 2018

 

Bat Out Of Hell at the Dominion Theatre


The Dominion Theatre has a theatrical rock legacy, with Queen musical We Will Rock You playing sold out shows for many years at this location and the golden statue of Freddy Mercury at the entrance of the theatre reigning over that iconic corner on Tottenham Court Road in London like true royalty. So it's only apt that the transfer of Meat Loaf musical Bat out of Hell, with music from the concept albums of the same name, takes up residence in the West End home of rock 'n' roll.

Romeo & Juliet meets Peter Pan in the star-crossed lovers' tale set in a dystopian Manhattan where teenagers don't age. Though in this take on the familiar story, Raven is the daughter of a dictator ruling Obsidian and Strat is the boy who falls in love with the forbidden girl from high up in the tower. With tension rising between the Lost teenagers and the establishment, and his friend Tink leading Strat astray, will the two love birds manage to find their happily ever after?

The soundtrack of Bat Out of Hell is based on the trilogy of albums by Jim Steinman (and recorded by Meat Loaf), and he is also responsible for the book of the musical. The track list includes true rock classics such as Paradise By the Dashboard Light, What About Love and I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That). While I was less familiar with the other songs that make up the score for the show, they each had that same feel and beat that made one flow seamlessly into the next.

The musical seems to liberally borrows from its Dominion Theatre precedent We Will Rock You with familiar costume design, lighting and its dystopian dictatorial setting, though swapping the tunnels of London's tube for those of the New York subway. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for someone who has seen both shows it's hard not to draw comparison between the two, and the Queen musical has the upper hand here with more charismatic characters and a soundtrack which from start to finish is sing-along familiar to the general public.

With loud guitar solos, strobe lights and excessive use of glitter canons and pyrotechnic effects, it's clear that the team behind Bat Out of Hell have put a lot of faith and money behind the production. However, at times the overpowering staging comes across as trying to distract from a not hugely engaging plot – which is padded out with songs that aren't as strong or recognisable as that of other jukebox musicals that have threaded the boards in the West End in recent years – rather than enhancing the show's strength; its outstanding performers.

And the cast are really what make this show West End worthy. Their unanimously brilliant vocals and the tight choreography, which especially stand out during the bigger ensemble numbers, are mesmerising. Danielle Steers as Zahara in particular is a rock 'n' roll powerhouse whose show-stealing solos are worth the admission ticket alone, but Christina Bennington as Raven and Andrew Polec as Strat are also excellent during their individual performances and duets, and well suited to their leading parts.

For fans of Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell is the iconic concept albums come to life on stage in true rock 'n' roll style. Those who are less familiar with the origin music, however, will have to dig a little deeper to find a connection to this production, but with impressive vocals and choreography, the cast give it them all to dazzle audiences at the Dominion Theatre.


Bat Out of Hell is playing at Dominion Theatre and currently taking bookings until 27 October 2018. Book your tickets here.


🎵 Listening to: Matchbox Twenty – How Far We've Come


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