Meat Loaf musical Bat Out Of Hell explodes with energy

BAT OUT OF HELL by Jim Steinman (Mirvish). At Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria). Runs to December 24. Tickets $29-139,.


BAT OUT OF HELL by Jim Steinman (Mirvish). At Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria). Runs to December 24. Tickets $29-139, mirvish.com. Rating: NNNN

Bat Out Of Hell is a thrashing, blood-pumping, fire-breathing spectacle that barely ever stops to catch its breath, for better or for worse though usually for better.

As with many concert-style musicals, the story runs a bit thin. An impish lad (Andrew Polec) bursts through the bedroom window of a young woman (Christina Bennington), introduces her to his misfit friends, and everyone learns a thing or two about growing up.

Sound a bit like Peter Pan? Its intentional. Writer, composer, and lyricist Jim Steinmans initial 1970s draft was called Neverland, and theres even a character named Tink. But the result is much more J.G. Ballard than J.M. Barrie. Amidst the burnout skyscrapers of the shows urban dystopia is a throbbing mass of big-time sexuality that does its best to compensate for the gaps in the plot.

Much of the tone is delivered visually via Jon Bausors forced-perspective set. It feels enormous and makes good use of both height and depth, as well as handy incorporation of Finn Rosss requisite mega-musical video projections.

But most of your attention will be directed toward the singing and, holy hell, can this cast sing. Pop musicals often favour big-voiced belters without much finesse, but Bat Out Of Hells cast have real chops.

The two young leads are excellent, and 20-year-old Polec is a raw, real star. But some of the best performances come from the supporting cast. As the sexually frustrated mom and pop of evil mega-corp Falco, Sharon Sexton and Rob Fowler bring fistfuls of heat and humour, and their voices are sublime.

Danielle Steers and Billy Lewis Jr. play another set of tortured lovers with pipes of steel, and the formers smoky, inimitable sound deserves a show of its own.

The band is explosive and receives a well-deserved nod in the curtain call, but the real star is Steinmans music (much of which was made famous by Meat Loaf). Its clear why Steinmans been dubbed the Richard Wagner of Rock. Too much is never enough, and Bat Out Of Hell is practically operatic.

The whole thing explodes with energy. Its unapologetically full throttle, moving so fast that weaker stretches quickly disappear in the rear-view mirror. Its got bumpy moments, but its a hell of a good time.

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