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Back out of hell: Meat Loaf musical returns to theatres

© Chris DavisGlenn Adamson on stage as Strat in Bat Out Of Hell
Glenn Adamson on stage as Strat in Bat Out Of Hell

Glenn Adamson was devastated when Covid brought an end to his American adventure in Bat Out Of Hell before it had really even started.

But now the stage actor believes it was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him 18 months to get into physical condition for the stamina-sapping role.

Adamson plays the lead role of Strat in the UK tour of the rock musical, based on the music of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf. He had been cast in the same role for the American dates in 2020 and was just about to begin dress rehearsals when theatres around the world were shuttered due to the pandemic.

“It was devastating, but I’m glad now that we dipped our toes in, because otherwise I wouldn’t have known what a beast this show is with regards to the levels of stamina required. It gave me a kick up the bum,” he explained. “I realised how much energy it would take night after night. We say this show is like running a marathon, so I decided to take up running and I actually did my first marathon on Boxing Day. In a way, I’m quite thankful I had that time to prepare.”

The anthemic nature of the songs means Adamson has to put his all into the vocals, too.

“They’re exceptionally high songs and they are a hard sing. But they are rock songs, so people want that gravel to the voice, which you often have after eight shows a week. With this style of music, you can be as effortful as you want with it, you can sing from your heart and chest, rather than think too technically. These are the songs I grew up on, as my dad was a fan, and I was in bands when I was younger.”

Adamson and the rest of the cast are midway through a two-week stint playing to packed crowds at Glasgow’s King’s, and he says the live theatre experience is greater than ever before.

“It felt amazing previously, but now it’s so much sweeter – and audiences seem to be responding so much more. Everyone’s been pent up for 18 months and I think they’re ready to party,” smiled Adamson, whose nan came from Edinburgh.

And it’s not just the long absence without theatre that’s making this tour feel special – it’s the first since Steinman passed away, and Adamson says the show’s creator remains very much in the cast’s thoughts.

“Jim’s intention when he wrote these songs decades ago were for them to be in a musical. He couldn’t get the rights to use the story of Peter Pan, which this is based on, so he released it as a concept album with Meat Loaf, who was supposed to have played the show’s lead character.

“It was always his dream that the songs would end up in a musical and everyone is glad that was realised before he passed.

“We dedicate a song, Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through, to Jim in the show every night. It meant the world to him that he got to see it come to fruition before he passed. When it was in the West End, he had a live video feed and would watch it most nights from his bed – that’s how much he loved it.”

Set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been affected by a pandemic, Strat falls in love with Raven, who has been locked up by her parents until her 18th birthday in order to avoid the virus.

“When this show first started, it seemed far-fetched, but I think people are watching it through new eyes now,” added Adamson.