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Newbie saying hi! (And some thoughts on the show)

Posted by:
Dave_Wain 02:20 pm MST 03/21/17

If anyone was unfortunate enough to sit by a tall guy in his thirties, wearing ripped skinny jeans and a Todd Rundgren tee last night in the front row of the circle, I apologise now for weeping uncontrollably somewhere during the second act!

Newbie alert! I’ve read this messageboard every day for the best part of this century, but I’m just not really a contributor on forums of this ilk. I just don’t think I’ve got anything particularly interesting to say. I’m a far better voyeur! Having said that, somewhere in the deep recesses of the M56 on the journey home, I felt I just HAD to finally join the board and offer my thoughts, if only in the hope that laying them down may facilitate some sleep!

Let’s go back to the emotion of the night, and it IS a deeply emotional piece of work, but there’s no doubt a percentage of that is just sheer relief.

Not so much a relief that it’s good, just the simple relief that it exists at all. We’ve all been on this (cliché warning) ‘journey’, whereby Jim’s lifelong vision of a musical has always been mooted, but even despite the teasingly short rehearsal promo clips, there was always a nagging suspicion in my mind that it was some insane self-created fantasy, caused by an over-prescribed dosage of Prozac or something…

Thankfully it appears my doctor won’t be up before the GMC, because it really does live and breathe in one gargantuan, breathtaking, aural and visual spectacle.

I found Jim’s work through an unusual entry point. One album I obsessed over as a teenager, and still do now is A Wizard, A True Star, so with a hunger for everything that Todd has laid his genius-like paws on, I ventured towards his productions; XTC, The Band, Patti Smith, and… well, you know the rest.

This fervent hunger to sample an artist’s entire body of work soon transferred onto Steinman, and before I knew it I’d amassed the usual suspects, as well as those early eighties masterpieces for other artists. Needless to say this caused a great deal of concern among my parents and friends; between asking my mother to borrow one of her Barbra Streisand LP’s, and insisting that my school friends listen to Barry Manilow between Guns N’Roses CD’s, my card was marked early on as a potentially unhinged individual!

I digress. We all have our stories, but one thing that’s remained constant since I first found Jim’s music, is the fact that first and foremost, I’m a Jim Steinman fan. As everyone will agree, there are times when this carries a degree of frustration, not least (despite the great review) in pieces like the one from The Arts Shelf yesterday which carried the slightly misleading headline ‘In the Land of the Musical, Meat Loaf is King’, because if there’s another aspect that added to the emotion of last night, it was the sight of Jim’s name above the title. It felt like a perverse vindication of two decades of strange looks; the record shop guy who smirked as I bought three copies of No Matter What, or the former partner who cited my predilection for relentlessly playing “some German opera shit” as a reason for breaking up.

I’m using it relentlessly too, both in conversation and on social media; JIM STEINMAN’S Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical.

Prior to going, a high percentage of people I told replied with “Ooh, is Meat Loaf in it?”, which was fine, but once I strangled the seventh successive person who said that, the bodies were beginning to pile up. This response will no doubt dwindle as the show’s legacy becomes etched into the folklore of Musical Theatre, and to be honest, I’m pretty pumped at the pending reappraisal of Jim’s career that BooH: TM should bring, not least for the folks that go out and pick up the Pandora’s Box CD. Oh how envious I am of them being able to listen to that for the first time.

Anyhow, I’m droning on so much I’m almost on the verge of curing my own Steinman-induced insomnia, but, as for a few random thoughts on the show, it seems redundant to add another orgasm to the cacophony of heightened squeals over the much talked about sequences that had audience members gasping. A few things that really caught my eyes and ears began with Andrew Polec. Holy cow! I saw him interviewed alongside Meat (post-Q Award), and he really did look like a deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming car. I really should have had no such concerns though, as he gave a commanding performance of self-assured brilliance. The same goes for Christina Bennington, who manages to embody a naïve innocence, mixed with an underlying desire to rebel.

Jim’s script was far more intense than I expected. Naively I thought the narrative would be pretty filmsy in order to facilitate the music, but I was so wrong. Peppered with all the classic Steinmanism’s that we’ve become accustomed to – JUGULAR! – Jim visits all the themes that are entwined throughout his songbook. One aspect that I thought worked really well was the character of Tink. To me, there’s a real undercurrent of sexuality that really sparkles on stage between him and Strat, and Aran MacRae manages to deliver that with a subtle perfection.

What Part of My Body Hurts the Most was the moment that really broke me, as I sobbed my way to snot-laden embarrassment like some kind of inconsolable fruitloop. The simplicity of the production on this song really heightened the emotion of it, while years of only seeing it on some grainy YouTube clip with Rob Evan singing proved too much to finally see it performed live.

That’s all really. I hope I’m allowed back after a ridiculously long first post! I just had to share this with like-minded people as a means of cathartic release. Y’know, sometimes when you witness a miracle, you realise that it’s not much good just keeping it to yourself.

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