I’ve resisted saying anything until now about Vision of You, the exploration and exposition of the backstories of the characters of Falco (Rob Fowler) and Sloane (Sharon Sexton) from Bat Out of Hell The Musical. There are three reasons. The first is that I thought I had said all I wished to say about BOOH – as it is known to its fans – already. The second is that there are invariably others who are able to write with so much more enthusiasm and unrestrained delight with regards to discovering more about these characters. Third, audiences were asked to “keep the secrets […] for those who haven’t yet seen the show”.
It is worth, on balance and with hindsight, saying something after all. The premise is that the concerts, held in London and Manchester previously as one-act performances, provide audiences with details about how Falco and Sloane came to be where they were as characters during the timespan of BOOH. The Peterborough concert was held at the Key Theatre, a venue operated by Vivacity, a not-for-profit company that manages many other facilities as well, including swimming pools, gyms, art galleries, libraries and the Peterborough Museum, for and on behalf of Peterborough City Council.
Why Peterborough? It’s where Rob Fowler first performed, as part of the Key Youth Theatre (KYT), now operated by Kindred Drama. Their alumni also include Matt Nalton, who was part of the West End cast of Jersey Boys, and Robert Gilbert, who has been in a number of productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Seven minutes is probably not that long for what Sexton and Fowler referred to as die-hard fans, many of whom have listened to Meat Loaf renderings of Jim Steinman’s songs that go on for even longer, but it’s a big ask of KYT’s current members to take on the opening musical number from BOOH, ‘All Revved Up With No Place To Go’ with a section from ‘Everything Louder Than Everything Else’ in the middle of it. Just as well that they smashed it.
At the interval, what I initially recognised as the familiar sound of hoovering, because the sheer amount of confetti that used to fall at the end of the first half of BOOH meant stagehands would use vacuums to help get rid of it, was actually the noise of automatic hand dryers in the conveniences. The use of a band (as opposed to just Steve Corley at the piano as per the earlier concerts) allowed for a greater variation of numbers, including renderings from BOOH numbers ‘Bat Out of Hell’ and ‘For Crying Out Loud’ from Strat (Simon Gordon) and Raven (Georgia Carling). The song most closely associated with Falco and Sloane (apart from ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’, which wasn’t reprised, fortunately or unfortunately), ‘What Part of My Body Hurts The Most?’ was as emotionally charged and impassioned as ever.
At the risk of he who doth protest too much, there were the usual hiccups that tend to go with one-off events – the odd line wasn’t quite picked up by the microphones, and a videotape was played prematurely. Early in the second half, with much of the narrative of the ‘original’ one-act Vision of You complete, the performance seemed to stop being a backstory that needed to be told and became more celebratory than revelatory. ‘The Show Must Go On’ from We Will Rock You and a tweaked rendering of ‘What You Own’ from Rent were amongst the highlights (for me, anyway), as was the infinitely mellower ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’. All things considered, a great night (especially considering the box office prices patrons paid) and a memorable live experience. Perhaps there might be someone from the current Key Youth Theatre company that might end up on a West End stage too one of these days.