‘Bat Out of Hell’ role has us Lost onstage
“Bat Out of Hell” is so talent-laden, it survived an interloping experience by yours truly.
Updated November 16, 2022 - 8:33 pm
The odometer on the chopper in “Bat Out Of Hell — The Musical” reads, “000,000.6.”
Six-tenths of a mile, about the same distance covered by the show itself.
“BOOH,” as it’s known in literary shorthand, just opened last month at Paris Theater. This is the rock opera conceived by Jim Steinman, recorded ironically by Meat Loaf, and now thundering across the Strip.
I now have seen this powerhouse show three times. During previews, on opening night, and once as a cast member.
The show brought me in to play the lead character of Falco … Wait, no. Not right. I was a walk-on ensemble cast member for the Nov. 9 performance.
My appearance can be accurately described as costumed loitering.
Buzz is the thing
My experience with “BOOH” was a twofold concept. I wanted to chronicle a voyage into the show, a bit like a travel story. The show is always seeking a way to sell tickets, through any portal possible, and here we are.
The idea came about casually. Lunchbox (legal name Dan Chappell) from “The Bobby Bones Show” had similarly walked on for the Oct. 8 show. Lunchbox, not known as a thespian, reportedly crushed it (JJ Snyder of KTNV Channel 13 performed Sunday night; Shawn Tempesta from KVGS 102.7, and Steph MacKenzie of Steph MacKenzie of 97.1 The Point also planning to appear).
As I talked with production marketing exec Tanesa Medlin about that appearance, I had a dystopian epiphany, “Do you think I could do this and write about it?” Soon, I was being fitted for a leather jacket, as a member of The Lost.
This was a rare opportunity to play a part in a major Las Vegas Strip production. Travis Cloer, Falco in this show who earlier portrayed Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys”,” told me that show allowed walk-ons.
But those spots were actually purchased as VIP packages, for spots onstage during the show’s bowling-alley scene, for instance. Bowling shirts, but nothing in leather, and nothing on a motorcycle.
Leather, bandanas and such
Jose Rodrigo, the show’s head of wardrobe, made sure that I at least looked the part. He swept in with a heavy leather jacket with “The Lost” across the back, red bandana, studded belt, and a single red-leather biker glove. The ensemble made me feel like I raided a John Varvatos boutique. Rodrigo also found a pair of killer work boots that were so comfortable I nearly walked out of the theater wearing them.
So I looked like I was Lost. The group of young rebels figures prominently in the show’s plot. The Lost are rebels in the post-apocalyptic Manhattan. But they never age, always 18. I soon referred to myself as, “The Elder Lost.”
I’m like the one member of The Lost culture who actually matures. I have hardened wisdom, battle scars, and good credit.
I referred to my Elder status during our first scene onstage, the pre-show chat as the audience is seated. I told my “buddy” on the show, Conor Crowley (who plays Denym), “As Elder, I can tell you that it is not as easy to jump on this stage as it is when you are 18.”
“I can help you up, if you need it,” Crowley said. That response reminded me of Chris Rock’s line, “You don’t want to be the old guy in the club.” You don’t want to be the oldest guy in The Lost, either.
Four on the floor
I would take part in four scenes, altogether. The pre-show was my favorite. We chatted casually, none of us mic’d. I regaled the young actors in my previous onstage appearance a few years ago with Nevada Ballet Theatre, when I played the hit man in a scene from Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” part of “A Balanchine Celebration.” No dancing, but I did have a couple lines.
The Lost crew seemed genuinely surprised I’d been on a stage before. It was a very mellow hang, until a thunderous sound and spotlight on Alize Cruz (the rocking Raven) formally kicked off the show.
When that happened, I hustled over to a fake boulder. I waited there for my motorcycle, or rather Mecca Hicks’ motorcycle. She plays Lost member Zahara, assigned to tote me offstage. I waited as Travis Cormier (in fine form as Strat) performed just a few feet away. As the scene closed, Mecca jumped on the bike, which jerked as we headed offstage. I clung to Motorcycle Mecca as if applying the Heimlich maneuver.
Cool cake hang
The show also had me play the chef midway through the show, even ordering a new chef costume. This was for the “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” number featuring Anne Martinez (fabulous as Sloane) and Cloer frolicking across a convertible Caddy as they are served cake (this is a crucial plot point).
I was supposed to just help deliver the cake, then make myself scarce. But somehow, I remained, unnecessarily, watching Anne and Travis do their thing.
After several moments where I improved some physical comedy, Paige Anne Mills (Mordema) ran over and pulled me off stage. She was so forceful, I thought we were entering an unscripted fight scene.
I was invited back at show’s end to bow it out, running out with dance captain Drew Lake (Bessamy, in The Lost). She explained the proper method of waving to the crowd. “Energetically” is that method.
I got to do some grooving, and also bowed backstage to the show’s hidden-but-terrific band.
Crucial to this experience was to come out unscathed, no negative viral moments, do no harm to the production and enjoy the adventure. We achieved that.
It was not lost on this member of The Lost how much talent is in this show. It’s rare to be next to world-class performers, as they are doing their world-class thing. We’ll be back, seated next time. The Elder is enlightened for the experience.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.