Tag Archives: the dream engine

Experiencing Bat Out of Hell the Musical

26 Jun
bat out of hell the musical londonJune 8, 2017.
The lights go out and Strat is standing center stage talking into the microphone.

“I remember everything!” he booms.

“I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday.” My eyes inexplicably begin to water. “I’m here, I’m really here,” I think to myself.

“I was barely seventeen, and I once killed a boy with a Fender guitar.”

OK, I’ve never killed anyone with a Fender guitar, but I do remember every word to Love And Death And An American Guitar, or Wasted Youth as it’s known on Bat Out Of Hell II. When I was barely seventeen I was reading Jim Steinman’s musicals Neverland and The Dream Engine, precursors to the Bat Out Of Hell musical, and downloading every mainstream and obscure song Steinman had ever written. I knew Bat Out Of Hell the Musical was in the works — it has been for 40 years — but I never dreamed Steinman would finish it and it would be performed in the very city I just happened to be living.

But there I was, watching Bat Out Of Hell the Musical unfold from the front row, wearing the Bat Out Of Hell T-shirt I bought on eBay when I was 17. And yet I somehow felt out of place. The women next to me were fully decked out in leather like they literally road in on the motorcycle displayed in the lobby. (A line from The Dream Engine comes to mind. “The revolution likes leather. The revolution wears leather to survive in the streets.”) They were dressed exactly like the members of The Lost wandering about on the stage a few minutes before showtime. My first thought was “Oh god, is this some kind of immersive theater? Am I going to have to interact with them?” (Another line from The Dream Engine: “Quiet. It’s only theater. It’s nothing to be afraid of.”) But no, they were not members of The Lost, just super fans who had seen the show in Manchester and came down to London to see it again. They waved their hands in the air and sang along to every song. Meanwhile I was completely still, “silently shrieking,” feeling every word and note in my heart and on every inch of my skin. (I’m trying to be poetic, but there was a speaker directly in my face. It obstructed my view a tad, but man, could I really feel the songs!). Those who know me are always surprised by my love for all things Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf. Steinman’s songs are about teen lust, going over the top, breaking the rules, and well, murdering people with Fender guitars. At 17 I was a straight A student who was president of the Latin club and played flute at Mass. I had barely slow danced with a boy, Paradise by the Dashboard Light was a completely foreign concept to me. And yet maybe that’s what attracted me to Steinman’s music — it allowed me to escape my top-button buttoned life and wear some auditory leather. (To quote one of his songs: “You’ve been nothing but an angel every day of your life, and now you wonder what it’s like to be damned.”)

The show was everything I could have dreamed it to be. There were certainly elements of Neverland and The Dream Engine in there, but it had been cleaned up and polished for a mainstream audience. The Dream Engine was pretty dark and outrageously sexual. Reading it as a good Catholic school girl was one of the most rebellious things I did back then. I’m not sure I even understood all of it, but I kept going back to it, even plastering lines from it all over my school notebooks. (Lines like: “Reality’s in agony and it’s about time it stopped. It’s about time we put reality out of its misery. And there are only a few of us left with the grace to try euthanasia.”) Even before I saw the show I had a feeling it wouldn’t be one I could see just once (even though my one ticket practically cost more than the 7 other shows I’ve seen this year combined). And when I realized the guy playing Strat was actually the alternate, I knew I had to go again to see the lead (though Ben the alternate was brilliant!). That, and it was the 49th show I’ve seen in London. I couldn’t let just any show be my landmark 50th.

Then like a sinner before the gates of Heaven, I’ll come crawling on back to you…

So I’m seeing it again this week. Front row center this time.

A post in which I decide not to complain about the weather then proceed to anyway

25 Jul

Recently someone on Reddit compared getting on the Tube lately to this:

indiana jones melting

And then getting off the Tube:

rhino ace ventura
Sweet, sweet relief.

I’ve only taken the Tube a handful of times since London has reached the temperature of Hell’s waiting room, but I can confirm the accuracy of the gifs. Last weekend I went to see Matilda the Musical with a friend (London show No. 18!). When it was time to go home I had a conundrum — should I walk for over an hour, sweating without sunglasses or headphones, melt on the Tube for 15 minutes (and pay more), or melt on the bus for 30 minutes (and pay less). I opted for the bus because I’m a cheapo, but it was miserable. I ended up getting off early because I was getting nauseous and it was just too stuffy. People occasionally ask me what I miss most about the US. Right now I’d say air conditioning.

But this post wasn’t supposed to be just me complaining about the heat. The other day Stephen asked if we should buy a portable AC, and I actually said no. I don’t even know myself anymore. The first few days the temperature went above 75 degrees (24C) I was irritable and crabby. I tried to go to the library to work, but it was even warm there. Then sometime around the sixth day of muggy hotness I just gave up. There’s a line from Jim Steinman’s play “The Dream Engine” that goes, “You can’t withdraw from reality. Sooner or later you have to succumb to it, sooner or later you have to negotiate with it, you have to work out some sort of peaceful settlement.”

I guess I worked out a peaceful settlement with the heat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a cool weather person who worships at the altar of AC, but the reality is that London has two or three weeks each summer that are unbearably warm, made even worse by the city’s lack of air-con, but the heat wave inevitably passes and we go back to a pleasant 20 degrees. (Side note: every time I quote a temperature in Celsius I can almost feel a bit of my American citizenship being stripped away). So every day for the past week I take a shower, put my wet hair up so it won’t dry, then position myself in front of the fan and get to work. It’s no air-conditioned office, but it also beats melting my face off on the Tube commute every day. Working from home has its perks.

…and I guess this post will be about weather. I’ll save complaining about the tourists at Cambridge for another day. Meanwhile, enjoy this corgi flop:

corgi flop