By THE ENTHUSIAST
Actors’ bios typically list the shows they’ve appeared in – Broadway, Off-Broadway, on tour – and leave it at that. But leads Andrew Polec ("Strat") and Christina Bennington ("Raven") give us more. Polec, Polec tells us, "won rave reviews" in Bat Out Of Hell in the West End before "leading the cast to New York City Center." Bennington, Bennington informs us, is the "Northern Irish star of the West End." No lights are lost under bushels here. Patti and Nathan, take note.
The Young & The Restless
In the glam, battered Bat Out Of Hell future, humanity is divided into two factions: humans like us able to grow up and get old, and mutant humans genetically engineered to stay forever 18. Raven is an I’ll-eventually-grow-up girl; Strat is an I’ll-always-be-18 boy. When Strat declares his undying love, Raven protests, "But what about when you’re 18 and I’m 38…or 48…or... ” She then falters, unwilling even to think about the next logical step in that progression. “…49?” In the words of an earlier playwright: Fear it, Ophelia.
Raven’s dad is named Falco. Falco! Not only that, in one scene "FALCO" is spelled out in red neon letters several feet high on the side of a skyscraper. So you sit there waiting for one of the characters to start singing about not turning around because Der Kommissar’s in town, or being rocked by Amadeus, but no. Nothing. Rumors that his character was originally named Scritti Polliti could not be confirmed as of press time.
Originally known as the Mecca Temple, the New York City Center is a jaw-dropping, one-of-kind marvel. Built in the 1920s as a meeting hall for the Shriners, City Center is now home to several different performing arts groups, including Encores. Will Encores be bringing back Bat Out Of Hell a few decades hence? Tomorrow never knows.
Steinman is one of the few songwriters you recognize even when artists as disparate as Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler and Barbara Streisand are singing his songs. Steinman writes the sort of anthems you picture being penned by a Byronic young Goth raised in a household where the only music ever played was the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack and the story-songs of Bruce Springsteen. Nowhere is this on more vertiginous display than in that apotheosis of all things Steinman, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," the centerpiece of the first act. Whether or not it’s wise to present that 70s celebration of young lust not as a night of hormone-dazzled abandon between Raven and Strat – a couple "barely 17 [and] barely dressed" – but instead as a bit of backseat rumpy-pumpy for Raven’s middle-age mom and dad is left to the judgement of the viewer.
The Enthusiast (email@example.com) is the pen name of critic Michael Collins. He reports back only on what’s good, never what’s bad. But what he declines to praise can speak volumes.