Broadway Shockers 2018: Bat Out of Hell Tour Is (Temporarily) Gone, Gone, Gone
A North American tour hits a roadblock in Canada…just days after announcing a New York run.
As 2018 draws to a close, TheaterMania looks back on some of the most jaw-dropping stories of the year.
When I first saw Bat Out of Hell, Jim Steinman's heavy-metal musical using the songs he wrote for Meat Loaf, in 2017, I thought it would be a shoo-in for a New York run.
It's bombastic (a full-size car drives the orchestra pit, and a costume change takes place underwater); it's nonsensical (the plot is a cross between Peter Pan and Romeo and Juliet, set in a dystopian universe); and it's intensely fun. Especially with a drink or five in your system.
On October 29, producers announced that Bat Out of Hell would make its Manhattan debut in an eight-week sit-down engagement at New York City Center for some hot summer nights in 2019. It would be the tail end of a North American tour that was currently kicking off in Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
And then, the tour abruptly closed. The company, working on a yearlong contract, was informed on November 1 that November 3 would be their final performance. Some of them had given up high-profile New York gigs to take Bat Out of Hell, which not only seemed like a sure thing, but one that was pretty lucrative. Others faced temporary homelessness, having sublet their apartments for the duration of the tour.
While we may never know the truth of the story from all angles, a fair observation comes down to the size of the production and a lack of ticket sales. Still, if you're a student of theater history and take a deep dive into the list of producers, you'll recognize the second-billed name, Michael Cohl.
Cohl is a Canadian concert promoter who has worked with Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, and U2. He famously produced Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark on Broadway, shepherding it through 182 previews and countless media disasters.
He was also in charge of moving A Night With Janis Joplin off-Broadway and sending Jesus Christ Superstar out on a North American arena tour. Both were canceled dangerously close to their start times.
Allegedly, Bat Out of Hell isn't totally dead. The City Center run is (according to the Bat Out of Hell website) still on for now, preceded by stops in Washington, DC, Dallas, and St. Paul. But will it actually happen? Who knows. One thing's certain, though. Actors should think twice before they sign on for "Hell."