Interview with Giovanni Spano by Adrian Hextall
The world premiere of the long-awaited Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical will take place in London’s West End at the London Coliseum, opening on Tuesday 20 June 2017, following previews from 5 June, for a limited season until 22 July 2017.
This follows previews at Manchester Opera House from 17 February to 8 April 2017.
One of the songs was written while Steinman was an undergraduate at Amherst College in the late 1960s.In the 1970s, Steinman wrote a theatrical musical that was presented in workshop in Washington D.C. in 1974 and featured many of the songs that would ultimately appear on the Bat Out Of Hell album, which was released in 1977.
Bat Out Of Hell became one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 50 million copies worldwide. 16 years later, Steinman scored again with Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which contained the massive hit I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).
For the stage musical, the legendary and award-winning Jim Steinman has incorporated iconic songs from the Bat Out Of Hell albums, including You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Bat Out Of Hell, I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as two previously unreleased songs, What Part of My Body Hurts the Most and Not Allowed to Love. Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical is a romantic adventure about rebellious youth and passionate love, set against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland. Strat, the forever young leader of The Lost, has fallen for Raven, daughter of Falco, the tyrannical, ruler of Obsidian.
MyGlobalMind spoke to Giovanni Spano about landing one of the main roles, that of Ledoux.
MGM: Gio, good to talk to you, how are rehearsals for the show going?
GS: Yeah, it’s good. It’s just, it’s ever-changing because it’s still in previews at the moment. People getting in the show [in Manchester] every single night. But yeah, it’s great, it’s going really well. The audience is absolutely insane out here. They’re loving it, absolutely loving it. And I think it’s… I mean, it’s only gonna get worse, like [laughs] that’s better for us because obviously it works in regards to the sound, it’s just the people that are coming along to see the show are just mad for it, and in the end of the night, we’ve got more on our feet, going mental and getting splashed by water and God knows what else. So yeah, it’s really good… really, really enjoying it.
So it’s not too long to make the adjustments now. We’re making a few more adjustments and then we open for press on the 14th of March.
MGM: Has anything changed dramatically as the previews have been going along or has it been minor tweaks?
GS: It’s really just been minor tweaks to be honest with you. Like basically just you know clearing up some bits in the story line, making segues into different songs a little clearer, just transitions and technical stuff as well, you know, whether we use something or whether we don’t use something because I mean, this show has got everything technical you can ever imagine. I mean it’s absolutely insane.
We’ve got… we use a pool on stage, we’ve got a small little pool on stage and at one moment I get water-boarded in the show, which is pretty cool–
GS: –and you know, people get–my hair, because my hair is quite long, it flicks into the people, the audience. And then there’s one moment but I’m gonna leave that as a surprise at the end of the show, and you’ll get to see that. There’s a few different things that might come out to the audience, you never know. [laughs].
MGM: Obviously you have a wealth of source material for the songs, of Mr. Steinman’s. Are you only using the first album or are using material from all three?
GS: We’re using material from all different source of places to be honest with you.
We’re also using ” Bad for Good” as well. We’ve got… we’ve got… we may have a bit of Dead Ringer in there as well. We’ve got “Bat I”, “Bat II”… I don’t know if there’s any–I can’t remember if there’s any of “Bat III.” Also, “Braver Than We Are” as well.
MGM: So that’s really covering the catalogue of Steinman and Meatloaf creations then in that case.
GS: Exactly. And there might be a few little surprises. It’s Steinman’s works and obviously the legendary Meatloaf is just one of the greatest performers of all time, in my eyes anyway. The guy’s a legend.
MGM: In terms of who’s been up to see it to wish you well, have you seen either of them, have they been up?
GS: Not just yet, not just yet. Jim’s in Connecticut at the moment, so he’s kind of… we’re basically… organizing to meet him with our video talks, etc. and stuff like that just so he’s involved the whole time. Even throughout the whole production process he’s been involved, which has been absolutely lovely. Relaying different messages, etc., coming back to us soon, so it’s all… it’s been relatively positive [laughs] which is good.
I was involved in the launch. We did at the Coliseum [London], and there was 150 Harley-Davidsons. It was insane. And we had about 5,000 people there. It was great. And MeatLoaf came down to that, and he also did the Manchester launch with myself as well. Up here, at Albert’s Schloss. We’ve met, and he’s endorsing it and he’s absolutely… so excited about it. He wants to be a part of it. [laughs]
MGM: I’m not surprised.
GS: If you see the stage, he’s like… he could be a part of it. He’d be running around just the whole time. It’s mad, it’s mad. We have been endorsed by the pair of them, which is great, and obviously Jim’s on the phone every single day which is awesome to have the genius as well.
MGM: Absolutely. It adds that layer of credibility. It’s not like you’ve just franchised the music. He’s actually heavily involved then.
GS: Oh no, he’s like the big light light behind it all, he is the driving force behind it all. And any ideas that are changing or whatever have to go by him or they are his ideas to improve the show. This is his show. Yeah, this is his show. We’ve got our producers in there and whatever, but they’re quite happy to let Jim kind of take control with Jay Schieb, who’s directing the piece, and be the driving force behind the show. It’s been great. It’s been really nice to have him involved.
MGM: And what about yourself? How did this come about for you.
GS: So basically… I was in “Guys and Dolls” at the time and… I’m in a rock band myself. We do tons of gigs around town, you know, the Cat Scratch Fever, the Big Red, things like that. One of my friends got the breakdown to it… come to an audition for it. And he came up to me and he said to me, “Look,” I think he’s about 37, 38, something like that… “you’re younger than me. This sounds perfect for you. And I know how much you love rock music, etc. metal, etc.” And I was just like, “Yes, this is very true.” “You should be going up for it and you should do it.” So from that moment forward, I phoned my agent and I just said, “Look I need to be singing for this… if I don’t get to sing for it, I’m leaving you, pretty much…” So then he got me an audition the next day, went to the audition, and… to be honest with you, I felt like the gig was mine to lose, to be honest, because I was so committed to get the job and I’d done all the research and I invested tons and tons of material that they’d given me. Obviously you know the material but then melody-wise, technically you kind of gotta get it all right.
GS: So I went up for the audition, and I got the call. I’ve got the gig, which was great, and never looked back. It’s been an amazing process, thus far.
MGM: And I was going to say on that, you must have started off in a room with all the hopefuls that gradually got whittled down as we often see, like “Fame” on the TV. Was it a high number of other people?
GS: It was a funny thing. It seemed like there was tons and tons of guys up for my role at the time. The other parts, like Jagwire, who’s in the piece, it seemed like there were two, three guys. And then there was Strat, obviously–Andrew Polec’s playing Strat
I think he kind of had it in the bag since Day 1. He did “The Lab” back in New York. And then there was my part, which is Ledoux, and it seemed like everybody was singing material from Ledoux at the audition so I was just like, “Holy shit, man! Am I actually gonna get this…?” Every rock singer who’s ever been in this show was there, and I was just like… and luckily enough, the next day, I got the phone call. It was literally a room filled with people dressed in leather and boots and black outfits… chains, etc. And I was just like, “Wow, am I gonna get this gig or not?” Then I got the phone call the next day. But as I said, I felt like it was mine to lose because I went in there and I started singing my ass off.”
MGM: Yeah, I was gonna say, if you can’t go in with that element of confidence, it’s gonna show in an audition, isn’t it?GS: Yeah, and you know the panel was there as well… the director, the associate director was there as well, the producers were there.
LtoR Patrick Sullivan as Blake, Giovanni Spano as Ledoux & Dom Hartley-Harris as Jagwire
MGM: You’ve got a bit of pedigree on the music side as well. You’ve got your own band, deVience. Does that go on hiatus for the time being, or do the guys understand you need to be in. this and you mix and match to suit?
GS: It’s absolutely all good. Basically, we’re not on hiatus at the moment. We’ve got a gig on April 1st at the Albert’s Schloss up here in Manchester and also I’m touring in Berlin — one minute, I’m up in Manchester and then the weekends I go down on a Sunday and we… track drums or we track guitars because at the moment we play together like a little EP We’ve got a new single, and then we got a few B-sides coming out which has a few little covers that we’ve had some songs with. This new single, we’re really excited about. The album has just come out anyway, but we’re continuously writing the music and writing that material and stuff so… I get down on the weekends and then we’re playing here on April 1st, because I wanna get the press night out of the way and let everything settle for a bit and then we start with the band again. And then, May we have Cat Scratch Fever… what’s the one on Denmark Street? I can’t remember for the life of me what it’s called.
MGM: The Alley Cat, is it?
GS: Yes, it certainly is. Yeah, yeah. And then we’ve got Big Red up in June. So yeah, I’m out a little bit crazy, to be honest with you, but I love it so much. It’s kind of my initial passion and the boys and the music. We’re also going out to LA in September, play a few gigs, Whisky A Go, Go and Loaded. We’re taping four actually, and we’re back for Subterranean Festival, Tiny Rock Star King… yeah, we’re trying to fit it all in.
MGM: Presumably when you get to June and the [Bat Out of Hell] show launches in the West End, you’re gonna be what–6 days a week?
GS: Yeah, I’m doing 6 days a week. At the moment, I feel like I eat, sleep and breathe Meatloaf, like, nothing else matters at the moment. I got up now because, you know, with the interview, half past 9 we do the interview. Then 11 o’clock, I’m in the rehearsal studio, like, sorting out a new number in the show. Then goes, from the studio, onto the stage at 2 o’clock. From 2 o’clock until 5:30 I think we’re checking that number–lights, sounds, etc. blah blah blah. Then from there, we usually get an hour for dinner break. Then we got a fight call, ’cause I beat everybody up on the show apparently. [laughs] Like a warm-up, and then the show. And then you don’t get home from the show ’til 11 o’clock. It’s literally like… and then you try and wind down after a show… it’s about 2 o’clock before you wind down.
You don’t see any TV, barely listen to radio, try to do a bit of music. It’s absolute nuts.
MGM: When all you’ve got is effectively Steinman’s entire Bat catalog running through your mind constantly.
GS: Yeah. It’s not a bad Bat catalog to help you ease your mind, is it?
MGM: They could be worse, definitely.
GS: There could be worse situations. But the boys, they’re liaising with me all the time. I fully intend to get things going. I’m speaking to these people. And also, you know, we had like labels and managers, etc. prior to coming to this show actually. I wanted to wipe the slate clean because I knew that this show was an incredible opportunity for myself and also for, you know. There’s a lot of rock and roll dreamers out there, they say they can do one thing and they do very much another thing, and it’s quite upsetting. It’s quite… it’s one of those things… it’s sorta like you’re taking one step forward and then three steps back when you decide to sign with a manager or something like that. So staying independent at the moment has been absolutely lovely and liaise with the actual contacts myself have been great. It’s been a bit wild.
About deVience, it’s two words. I think it stands quite true with rock and roll, to be honest with you. There’s a lot of kids that are quite, like Mr. Steinman himself, quite emotional, and that’s where most of the music comes from. So, I’ve got two words that I love and live by–to “vie” for something and “defiance.” When I was a kid, I was a bit of a heavy lad, you know, everybody thought I was gonna carry on that weight and start being unhealthy. Then you know, I got to the gym, got fit. So basically, it’s “live if you’re living” and “vie to defy” and keep trying… you know, “vie” is to try and to strive for something, so much so, and then we defy people’s expectations, and I think that’s what rock and roll is. People expect somebody to fail and then these rock and roll stars come from nowhere and blow people out of the water. That’s what deVience is, it’s kind of an analogy more so than a word, as a way of life, if it were.
MGM: It’s very helpful that you’ve not, say, just come from starring in a non rock show or something like that and it’s always been stage and theater. You’ve got that rock pedigree in the background as well with the band that fits perfectly with the rock and roll ethic that we’d expect to see onstage at the show.
GS: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s one of those things. When I was a kid, I’ve always listened to music but, literally, the first song… Smash Hit’s Party On album, I think I was about 7 or 8, and I remember it vividly, Queen Bohemian Rhapsody came on, because it was like a compilation, and I was gone. I was gone already. My parents knew that I was lost in music straight away. So the one thing that they thought was easiest route into music was musical theatre, so I started from a very, very young age at like, 10 years old. And whether I’m playing hard rock music, metal music, whatever–the feeling I get when I go onstage is exactly the same. I go out there to entertain the audience and make them go home with a smile on their face. So for me, going onstage and singing a Bugsy Malone song when I was a kid was like rock and roll. I still get the same feeling, It was only natural that I carried on listening to music and then went into music as well. I found the boys. It’s great. Actually, great. It’s a massive, massive passion of mine. But, first and foremost, the music’s everything. And you know, deVience is magic.
MGM: That’s the passion that drives music forward, isn’t it? That’s what I’m hearing in your voice right now. I can imagine you’ll be fired up for the premiere in London.
GS: The world premiere is June 20th and you should definitely expect to see Mr. Loaf himself. We have our fingers crossed, fingers crossed, but I’m sure he’ll be there, and all the rock and roll royalty in London should be around. Yeah, it’s June 20th at the London Coliseum. We’ll be premiering this bad boy.
MGM: Best of luck with this. I hope it goes fantastically well and runs for years.
Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell The Musical is previewing at Manchester Opera House until April 8 before moving to the London Coliseum in June
Tickets from http://www.
More info aboiut Gio’s band deVience can be found here: