Bat Out of Hell – one hell of a tribute to Meat Loaf & Jim Steinman says its stars

That modern-day crowd-pleaser, Bat Out Of Hell roars into Milton Keynes Theatre this week, a perfect tribute to music legends Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman.

Vicky Edwards catches up with its stars Martha Kirby and Glenn Adamson from Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell – The Musical.

If you didn’t already know that Bat Out of Hell started life as a musical, it’s a fact that probably comes as no surprise – the songs are so theatrical and anthemic.

Entitled Neverland and written by Steinman in 1974, the premise was a futuristic Peter Pan story.  

But producers didn’t bite so in 1977 the album was recorded instead, claiming an eight-year tenancy in the UK charts and turning Meat Loaf a global superstar.  

And when the show finally hit the stage in 2017, the result was pretty much the same: two sell-out West End seasons and a ‘packed-to the-rafters’ run in Manchester. 

Now, in the wake of Steinman’s death last year, and more recently that of Meat Loaf, it is fitting that their theatrical legacy heads off on a national tour.

“The show has always paid tribute to both Meat and Jim’s work. It is now our place to continue sharing their legacy and greatness,” says Martha, who plays Raven.

“Meat was a true inspiration of mine and I always hoped that when he was well enough to perform again that he would join us for a song or two. 

“He was famous for never performing a song the same way twice. I hope we can carry that with us – he was my type of performer,” adds Glenn, who plays the forever-young Strat. 

But you don’t have to know anything about the album to appreciate the show.

“It is just a great night out; high octane, high energy and like a party,” says Glenn. “Just what we need after all that we have been through lately. 

“Yes; it’s nostalgia for people who grew up with the album, but it is also a really great story that resonates with younger audiences.”

Martha nods her agreement. “The music was what initially drew me to the show. I’d never heard it, but I listened to it before I auditioned and just loved it. Singing and being engulfed by such incredible music every night is something I will never take for granted.”

And while the storyline has its roots in JM Barrie’s Edwardian classic, there is a rather startling prescience in this big, bold and gripping reimagining.

“A group of teens have been frozen at the age of eighteen and can’t age past that point. But Raven manages to evade the virus and to age. She meets Strat, one of ‘the Lost’, and we follow their love story,” explains Glenn.

Picking up the thread, Martha says: “The fact that Raven can’t age because of a strange virus is almost too scary really – she’s confined to her room and her family are shielding her.” 

Glenn adds: “And it is almost funny that when the script was written people thought it was far-fetched!” 

Far-fetched or not, there’s no denying the show’s success.

Winning critical acclaim, being voted for BBC Radio 2s Audience Award for Best Musical and receiving eight nominations in the What’s On Stage Awards, audiences have also been wowed in Canada, Germany and New York. 

As for the album of the same name, it remains one of the most successful of all time, selling more than 50 million copies worldwide. Furthermore, its sequel (Bat Out of Hell ll: Back into Hell), which included the monster hit I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), didn’t do too badly either.  

“Great music is timeless and ageless,” agrees Glenn. “Queen, Bon Jovi, Tina Turner – this album is in the same bracket as those by these classic artists. New audiences are coming to older music all the time. 

“And nobody wrote rock anthems that are essentially musical theatre numbers like Jim. I think this was his finest work and I’m just so glad that he got to make this show before he died.”

“You can hear the theatricality of the songs; you really feel the fact that they were written as musical numbers,” Martha chips in, pointing out that while some younger people discover the music first and then come to the show; others do it the other way around. 

“We get a lot of younger people coming to the show and discovering Jim’s music for the first time. It’s labelled as being suitable from age thirteen upwards, which I think is about right,” she says, grinning at the memory of her teenage brother experiencing the show for the first time. 

“He’s a typical teenage boy and so when he said that he really liked it I knew for certain that it had broad appeal. Everyone falls in love with this show.” 

As for the tour, the cast will have to think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint. Already booked until the end of October, with new dates still being added, not many people in the UK will lack the opportunity of ‘going to Hell.’ 

“It is so exciting to see all these places and to visit all these wonderful theatres,” sighs Martha.”

As for Milton Keynes, Glenn has a particular reason for being happy that the show is scheduled to stop there.

“I’m a local boy there, so all my family will be coming along. It’s going to be so good to be at home and to see everyone.” 

Bat Out of Hell plays at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday to Saturday, June 25 before resuming its tour to Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (June 28-July 2); Blackpool Winter Garden (July 5-9); Theatre Royal Plymouth (July 12-23); Newcastle Theatre Royal (July 26 – Aug 6); Bristol Hippodrome (Aug 9-20); Grand Opera House Belfast (Aug 23-27); Bord Gais Energy Theatre Dublin (Aug 30-Sept 10); Hull New Theatre (Sept 13-24); New Theatre Cardiff (Sept 27-Oct 1); Liverpool Empire (Oct 4-15); New Victoria Theatre Woking (Oct 25-Nov 5) and Peacock Theatre, London (Feb 17 – April 1, 2023).

Leave a Reply