If an old rock album is meant to be translated to the stage, then Meat Loaf’s iconic Bat Out of Hell seems as good a choice as any other. Unfortunately for the Bat Out of Hell production at the Dominion Theatre, the concept is probably the only good part about it. There is a lot to unpack, both musically and lyrically, in Meat Loaf’s classic rock opera, and this adaptation simply fails to do so, which is surprising since Jim Steinman, who helped compose the album, has a heavy role in the production.
Jay Scheib directs this production, but it is difficult to see what is really being directed here. The entire show feels like a bunch of Meat Loaf songs haphazardly thrown together on top of an uninspired script. It’s almost as if they just wanted to put the Bat Out of Hell name on this so they put the songs in to justify it. Yes, the story lightly follows the lyrical content of the album, but it is extremely contrived and difficult to keep up with.
About the only positive takeaway from Bat Out of Hell is the music, so if you’re not a Meat Loaf, you’re out of luck. If you enjoyed the original album, you’ll be happy to know that the cast and crew do a pretty good job of recreating the songs and putting on a decent show. Unfortunately, if you are looking for deeper meaning or a stronger connection to the story on which it is based, you’ll leave feeling disappointed and relatively empty.
Andrew Polec plays Strat, the lead role in the play. He isn’t bad, but he isn’t particularly great either. This is partially due to the unimaginative script that is full of forced dialogue and tired cliches. Opposite him is Christina Bennington playing Raven. She does a decent job considering the disaster that is the script, but unfortunately, she can’t do enough to turn this production into anything special. The chemistry between the two is nonexistent, and it feels as though they are just going through the motions at this point. Luckily, they are able to come out of their shells a bit during the musical numbers, but not enough to warrant calling this a good performance.
Steinman adds two new songs to the musical, and they would have been better off left out. They don’t match the theme or the sound of the original album and instead throw the entire production off rather than bringing it together. New music can be added to a classic in an admirable fashion, but this is not an example of that.
If you like Meat Loaf’s music, you may find some enjoyment in this performance, but chances are you’ll be left disappointed. Even if you only want to go for the musical numbers, there isn’t much that will truly grab you. You’re better off turning on the album at your home.