Meat Loaf finds fresh voice

Bat Out of Hell re­vived as full-blown stage mu­si­cal

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - ENTERTAINMENT - LAU­REN LA ROSE

TORONTO — Meat Loaf is get­ting the unique chance to re­con­nect with his the­atri­cal roots as songs from his record-sell­ing rock opus Bat Out of Hell are in­cor­po­rated into a new mu­si­cal.

It was years be­fore his 1977 jug­ger­naut al­bum when the en­ter­tainer was im­mersed in a dif­fer­ent world of stage, play­ing roles in Hair and The Rocky Hor­ror Show.

In some ways, he’s re­turn­ing to that part of his life along­side col­lab­o­ra­tor Jim Stein­man, who helped cre­ate the orig­i­nal al­bum and is the cre­ative force be­hind Bat Out of Hell: The Mu­si­cal. The play makes its North Amer­i­can pre­miere Satur­day at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto and Meat Loaf is cred­ited as an as­so­ci­ate pro­ducer.

“It means more to (Stein­man), but it means so much to me,” Meat Loaf said of the new stage show dur­ing an in­ter­view ear­lier this year.

“I have writ­ten him e-mails where I’ve been in tears talk­ing about, ‘I can’t be­lieve this is hap­pen­ing’ — your dream of 50 years.”

Cana­dian au­di­ences will be in­tro­duced to the smash mu­si­cal after a sold-out run in Manch­ester and a stint at London’s Coli­seum Theatre.

The huge emo­tions that we ex­plore in the show just come re­ally nat­u­rally from the mu­sic.”

Christina Ben­ning­ton

The mu­si­cal fea­tures some of Stein­man’s and Meat Loaf ’s big­gest hits, in­clud­ing I’d Do Any­thing for Love( But I Won’t Do That ), You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Sum­mer Night) and Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.

Stein­man cre­ated the book, mu­sic and lyrics for the mu­si­cal cen­tred on star-crossed love, re­bel­lion and rock ’n’ roll.

It’s an as­ton­ish­ing new chap­ter for Bat Out of Hell, which has sold more than 43 mil­lion copies, rank­ing it be­hind Michael Jack­son’s Thriller, AC/DC’s Back in Black, and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on the all-time best­selling list.

Meat Loaf said the Stein­man’s lat­est in­car­na­tion finds new in­spi­ra­tion in the source ma­te­rial.

“Orig­i­nally, all of Stein­man’s stuff was based on Peter Pan,” he said. “This turned into Romeo and Juliet.”

U.S. ac­tor An­drew Polec leads the pro­duc­tion as Strat, an 18-year old who thrives on his reck­less side.

“He’s ba­si­cally the epit­ome of eter­nal youth and re­bel­lion ,” Polec said. “It starts out with him be­ing wild and crazy.”

Soon he meets Raven, the daugh­ter of a despotic ruler he’s fight­ing against, but he’s smit­ten by her and falls head over heels.

Belfast-born Christina Ben­ning­ton por­trays Raven, who’s in­stantly at­tracted to Strat but shel­tered by her pro­tec­tive par­ents.

“I think she’s al­ways wanted to rebel against them,” Ben­ning­ton said. “She meets Strat and finds a kin­dred spirit she’s pretty much all in.”

Polec and Ben­ning­ton each said they orig­i­nally dis­cov­ered Bat Out of Hell through their par­ents. Both see the mu­si­cal as the prime show­case for the al­bum.

“The huge emo­tions that we ex­plore in the show just come re­ally nat­u­rally from the mu­sic,” Ben­ning­ton said.

“It seems like it al­ways was where it was meant to be.”

Bat Out of Hell: The Mu­si­cal is slated to run at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto un­til Dec. 24.

SPeCular

An­drew Polec as Strat, Phoebe Hart as Bes­samey and Isaac Ed­wards as Denym (left to right) star in Bat Out of Hell — The Mu­si­cal. The play makes its North Amer­i­can pre­miere Satur­day at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto and Meat Loaf is cred­ited as an as­so­ci­ate pro­ducer.

FRANK GUNN/The Cana­dian Press

Meat Loaf (left) meets with lead per­form­ers An­drew Polec (right) and Christina Ben­ning­ton from Bat Out of Hell — The Mu­si­cal, in Toronto in May.

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