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Reelin' In the Years - Bat Out Of Hell

This issue’s video clip is from Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, which had its North American premiere at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, October 14, 2017 to January 7, 2018.

We are featuring it as a tribute to composer Jim Steinman, who died on April 19, 2021 at his home near Ridgefield, Connecticut. His brother, Bill Steinman, told the Associated Press, his brother had been ill for some time. The cause of his death was kidney failure.

Steinman’s songs are among the most popular of all time, breaking sales records and becoming an integral part of world culture.

But Steinman’s first love was opera and musical theatre. He began his career, while still an undergraduate in college, writing musicals. One of them came to the attention of the legendary producer Joseph Papp, who commissioned Steinman to write for the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Public Theatre in New York. It was there that he met Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday), with whom he collaborated on the LP that would come to define both of their careers — Bat Out of Hell. It was released in 1977 and is still to this day one of the best-selling recordings of all time.

Steinman had conceived Bat Out of Hell as a post-apocalyptic Wagnerian Peter Pan while he was still in college. But it wasn’t until 2017 that he was able to finally realize his ambition when he adapted the songs from the original Bat Out of Hell recording and its sequel, the 1993 album, Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, into a fully fledged musical theatre spectacle that premiered in Manchester February 17 to April 29, 2017; transferred to London June 5 to August 22, 2017, and then came to Toronto.

Steinman was too ill to ever see his magnum opus on stage in person. But he watched every performance via a live stream online. A camera was installed on the lip of the mezzanine, giving him an excellent view of the stage. As well, he had members of his administrative staff attend the early performances of each engagement of the tour and report to him the general mood of the audience, the thoughts of the cast at each performance and any other important details.

Likewise, he would send emails of praise to cast members and make suggestions to the creative team of improvements to the musical.

He was very proud of this production and very enthusiastic about a younger generation embracing the songs he had first conceived when he was the same age as the young cast.

View Transcript

“My songs are anthems,” Steinman told Rolling Stone in 1978, “to those moments when you feel like you’re on the head of a match that’s burning. They’re anthems to the essence of rock & roll, to a world that despises inaction and loves passion and rebellion.”

A statement posted on Steinman’s Facebook page read: “It’s with a heavy heart that I can confirm Jim’s passing. There will be much more to say in the coming hours and days as we prepare to honor this giant of a human being and his glorious legacy. For now, do something that makes you feel young, happy and free. He’d want that for you!”

And that’s exactly what Bat Out of Hell: The Musical celebrated — youth, love, rebellion, freedom and rebirth.