Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’ finds fresh voice in new musical

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 iconic 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 Jimmy, 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 emails 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 following a sold-out run in Manchester and a stint at London’s Coliseum Theatre.

“Bat Out of Hell: 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 best-selling 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.’”

American 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,” said Polec. “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,” said Bennington.

“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.