Kellie Gnauck never imagined she’d be belting out the songs of Meatloaf in a rock arena musical.
Her first introduction to the arts was attending opera.
“I had a grandad who was quite a famous opera singer and he worked for the Sydney Opera Company,” she explained.
Her mum also had a love of musical theatre, and Kellie Gnauck recalls going to see the all the “classic musicals”, but there is one that stands out the most.
“I always remember Miss Saigon being the big one for me. Seeing Lea Salonga do Kim in Miss Saigon is what made me want to do theatre. I just absolutely fell in love with it.”
At the age of 8 she took lessons in piano, singing and dance, then later got involved with amateur theatre in Gosford.
“I think I started playing a tree or something! I always wanted to be on stage, but I’d get scared of being on stage,’ she admitted.
Gnauck then went to a performing arts school and was surrounded by the arts, and as she says, “I haven’t been able to stay away since then!”
That was during the 1990s, when the theatre scene in Australia was nowhere near as big as it is now. With her love of theatre, Kellie Gnauck decided she just had to move to London. She packed up and moved away from Sydney in 2011, heading to Japan and then various other places for work opportunities before finally arriving in the UK in 2016.
Her latest role brings her back to Australia as leading lady Raven in Bat Out Of Hell. She first signed on about three years ago, just before the COVID outbreak. On the final day of rehearsals, in February 2020, the cast were informed that the show had been postponed due to the outbreak. They resumed in August 2021 and Kellie Gnauck has been with the show ever since.
“I think if you’d asked me when I was growing up and doing my singing lessons if I’d ever be in a rock show I think I’d be like ‘absolutely not!’ I was classically trained, I started out singing opera and now I’m singing Meatloaf” Gnauck laughed.
Bat Out Of Hell is an award-winning rock musical featuring the music of Jim Steinman and Meatloaf. It’s a far cry from Kellie Gnauck’s operatic introduction to the arts.
She describes the musical as “Romeo and Juliet meets Peter Pan mixed in with rock’n’roll.”
“It’s a great intro to theatre, it’s not your old school classic.”
“I play the role of Raven. She is the love interest on Strat. They are the two leads, the Romeo and Juliet kind of character. Raven comes from a family that is quite well off. They don’t want to be associated with the lost – which is the Peter Pan aspect – the kids that don’t age.”
Like all good musicals, Raven and Strat fall in love and the show takes her character on a journey of growth and development.
Kellie Gnauck’s favourite moment in Bat Out Of Hell is getting to perform ‘All Coming Back To Me Now’.
“We all know that Celine Dion made it famous, but it’s a Jim Steinman song. Even before I was in the show, I was obsessed with that song. So that is a really special moment that I get to sing that.”
Even more special is getting the opportunity to belt this song out in an arena spectacular in her home country.
“Everything is being done on a bigger scale because we just have so much more space here. The choreography looks epic in this size, because everyone’s got so much space to move. It’s got so much energy behind it. The pyrotechnics are on another level! They’re massive. They look incredible!” exclaimed Gnauck enthusiastically.
And of course the musical features the iconic songs of Jim Steinman, made famous by Meatloaf in particular. The songs were originally written by Steinman for a musical named Neverland, which was never staged. The original show was adapted into Bat Out Of Hell. It’s why these songs are so much richer and complex than your average pop song – they were written for a musical.
Playing in an arena means big performances and a high energy level, so I asked Kellie Gnauck how she prepares herself for each show.
“I do a lot of yoga and a lot of meditation to be as calm as I can. I know some people are the complete opposite and they listen to music and they get themselves really ramped up, but I find that the show does that for me naturally anyway, so for me if I start in a calm way then by the end of it I’m absolutely buzzing! If I go out with too much adrenaline, I’ve got nowhere to go.”
Bat Out Of Hell is not your classic musical, which Kellie Gnauck says is perfect for music fans who are not “into theatre”, but she says it’s also a show for theatre lovers. During a UK tour fans would turn up at every new place they performed and often in cosplay.
“The fan base for this show is epic!” Gnauck exclaimed.
Now that the show is playing in Australia, Kellie Gnauck would love Australian audiences to dress up and join in the cosplay fun.
Bat Out Of Hell is now playing in Australia
For more details: https://www.batoutofhellmusical.com/