Having played all over the world, Bat Out of Hell the Musical is returning to where it all began with an extensive UK tour. I spoke to Sharon Sexton, who originated the role of Sloane back in 2017, on returning to the role to take the show across the country.
“It has been so surreal coming back into the show. In a strange way, it’s kind of like putting on a really nice comfy pair of slippers,” said Sharon. “Even though it’s such a physically demanding role, I feel so at home with this production, with this role, and with these people.
“The show has changed so much ever since it opened in Manchester. It has morphed into this beast of a show so it’s really exciting getting it back up and running.”
Bringing to life the legendary anthems of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf, it’s an immense musical. Set in a dystopian world, Bat Out Of Hell tells the story of Strat, the forever young leader of the rebellious gang ‘The Lost.’ He falls in love with Raven, the beautiful daughter of the tyrannical ruler of Obsidian.
“It’s bombastic and like nothing else. There isn’t a better time for the show to be going onto the road than right now. You’ve got young people rebelling in the streets, you’ve got protesting, you’ve got dictator leadership. There are so many things, even in the rehearsal room where we are going “wow this is pre futuristic,” Sharon said.
“The core message of the show is that love is what will get you through – anything for love, we’d all do it. It is very hopeful, I hope that will ring true with audiences this time around as well.”
Sharon plays the role of Sloane, a strong, kick-ass female role. “When I first got the script initially, all the characters had this wonderful descriptions and Sloane’s said ‘wife and mother.’ So I remember thinking I need to take this and make her more than just those words on the page,” Sharon explained.
“So I’ve invested so much of myself into this character, I’ve fought for every line and every scene and every song. She is a powerhouse, she is vulnerable, she wears her heart on her sleeve but at the same time she is so strong-willed.”
Sharon literally created this role and is thrilled to be returning to a character that means so much to her. “I feel a lot of responsibility with Sloane, because her husband Falco can be a real nasty piece of work sometimes to her. Sloane cannot just accept it and go back to him – because the women always go back. I am very precious about keeping her strong.”
The music is the core of the show and Jim Steinman is incredible at telling stories through his songs. “Before I started working on the show I obviously knew the Meat Loaf hits but it’s the kind of music that when you hear it you think ‘oh that’s Steinman.’ It made me look deeper into this archive and he is genius,” explained Sharon.
“It’s going to be emotional for us all doing it after he passed, Bat Out Of Hell was something he was trying to get off the ground for over 40 years, so I am glad it managed to come to fruition whilst he was still with us.
“The songs are epic, each song is like a rollercoaster and a mini show in itself. Paradise By The Dashboard Light is like a one act play. They’ve kept the really gritty rock sound but Jim’s lyrics are beautiful storytelling which lends itself so well to musical theatre characters. It is mammoth olympic style singing – you can’t take your foot off the gas at all.”
The special thing about Bat Out Of Hell the Musical is that it is so different to anything else on stage right now. “It has broken the mould I think for a lot of stuff in the West End,” said Sharon. “The choreography in the show is like nothing that exists in any other show. It is so original and unique and storytelling – on paper you’d never put Emma Portner’s choreography with this kind of music and it just works.”
Featuring the iconic hits such as I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, Dead Ringer For Love and Bat Out of Hell – it’s a theatrical experience like no other.
“I just want people to be able to step out of their life for a few hours. This show is pure escapism but has so many messages of hope, positivity, love and joy,” said Sharon.
“It is so uplifting and I think we all need that right now. We need that feeling of being live and in person, that energy you get in a room that is not the same and will never be the same through a screen. I want people to remember why we need theatre, it is a tonic and it does something special.”
Bat Out Of Hell is open now at Manchester Opera House before continuing on tour across the UK. Find out more about tour dates and tickets on the Bat Out Of Hell website.
Photo credit // Chris Davis Studio