FEISTY, fun and flamboyant, the award-winning Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical is a feel-good riot of a show, based on one of the highest-selling albums of all time

It is pulling in fans of musicals-with-edge to the New Theatre Oxford this week, to enjoy a show loaded with Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s greatest hits.

Rob Fowler, who plays Falco, and Sharon Sexton, as Sloane, tell us about the enduring appeal of the show and its songs...

“The show is basically an initiation for those people who do not usually go to the theatre, it’s a great introduction,” says Rob.

“At the same, it’s got elements of We Will Rock You, The Rocky Horror Show and Peter Pan, so it also invites all those who regularly go to the theatre in too. There is something for all generations. It’s focused around the story of an 18-year-old who has been told she isn’t allowed to leave her house, which is something we can all relate to after the last couple of years. Only we tell the story in a slightly more light-hearted manner.”

Both actors originated their roles in the original London production. What’s it been like returning to them for the tour?

Oxford Mail: The original West End cast of BAT OUT OF HELL THE MUSICAL. Photo Credit - Specular (6)

“We’ve been very lucky,” says Sharon. “We’ve played these roles since we created them in 2016 and have performed them in London, Canada and Manchester among others. It’s a bombastic, adventurous show, and one that constantly plays to packed houses. Going out on tour is a joy, as we get to bring the show to places that may not have been introduced to it yet.”

Rob agrees. “I’ve always been proud to be a part of this show. When we heard it was going back on the road, after lying dormant due to the pandemic, I knew we had to be a part of it.

But is it any good? Read our review of the show...

“For us to be on the road and meeting different people around the UK and seeing their reactions to the production is wonderful. The producers and creative team have done an amazing job.”

“We’re like one big family,” Sharon chimes in. “I know it’s a cliché, but it really is.”

Rob adds: “Bat has always attracted the misfits of the world, and they form the family that they don’t have outside of the show.”

It’s been a strange 18 months and theatre has been badly hit. How does it feel to be back on stage?

Oxford Mail: Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical. Picture: Chris Davis Studio

“It’s very surreal, but so joyful for us,” says Sharon. “We get so much from just seeing faces of people walking back in the theatre for the first time in over a year. You can’t beat that untouchable energy of an audience in front of a live performance. It’s just magical. You don’t realise how much you’ve missed it until you are back there.”

Rob concurs. “Being back on stage you definitely appreciate the stamina it takes,” he says. “You can sing all you want in your kitchen and living room, but it’s a completely different story being back on stage.”

And what of the reaction?

“Amazing,” says Rob. “Bat has a really loyal following, as well as bringing in new fans wherever it goes, and you can tell how much they’ve missed this show.”

Sharon adds: “Bat Out of Hell has been around as a concept for 40 years. Jim Steinman wrote it as a musical, but it was a show nobody would make and so it became the basis of the Bat Out of Hell album. Because it’s been around for so long it has already evolved so much over that time. The audience gets a real experience. There are new costumes, new sets, new tricks – it’s great.

“It’s also really refreshing for us as performers. We’re the only two original cast members who have returned, and a lot of the time productions are set and new casts are told what to do in terms of staging and when to do it. This new cast has had so much creative freedom to make it their own.”

Oxford Mail: Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical. Picture: Chris Davis Studio

The pair are a real-life couple, having met when they started working on the London show. What’s it like working together?

“Maybe if you got together quickly while working on a show it might be harder, but we got to know each other really well before we got together, so I think it does make everything easier,” says Rob. “We get to work together and then go home and have a relationship.”

Sharon laughs. “We have a shorthand and can have a whole conversation with our eyes if something happens while we’re together on stage. You will never see anything as unique as Bat Out of Hell. It’s the escapism we all need after the last 18 months.”

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