SHARON Sexton got far more than she bargained for when she starred in the world premier of Bat Out of Hell the Musical when it opened in Manchester more than four years ago.

As the show prepares for a triumphant return to the Opera House from Saturday, Sharon reveals that it was during that initial run which saw the musical based on Jim Steinman’s classic hits head into the West End, that she and co-star Rob Fowler became ‘an item’.

The couple are still together and are the only members of that original cast to return with the show.

“Can you believe it is almost five years ago that we first began rehearsals?” said Sharon. “It’s just wonderful for us to recreate those roles when we first met. We are very much a couple now and we get the chance to go out on stage and fall in love every night to Jim Steinman’s music. How lucky are we to get to do that?”

Bat Out of Hell was a show that was 40 years in the making. It was always composer Jim Steinman’s dream that songs such as Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Heaven Can Wait and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad would be the centrepiece to a spectacular stage musical.

Set in a future world, Sharon plays Sloane whose lover Falco (played by Rob) is the despotic ruler of a post apocalyptic city where rebel teenagers The Lost refuse to get old. There are echoes of Romeo and Juliet and Blade Runner and, as Sharon says, our own very recent experiences.

“The plot of the show was fantastical when we first performed it,” she said. “The idea that there would be some kind of global catastrophe and we would be locking18 year olds in their bedrooms suddenly has a resonance with us.

“It struck me in the first rehearsal back that some of the dialogue has taken on a different meaning, it is quite eerie. I have always known Jim Steinman was a genius but I don’t think even he could have predicted the past 18 months but there are phrases in the show that we’d not heard before but are now part of everyday life.”

Bat Out of Hell is arguably the biggest show to hit Manchester since theatres reopened following various lockdowns. There is a massive technical crew, full band and around 30 performers who bring Jim Steinman’s vision to life.

“There is virtually a whole new cast for this tour,” said Sharon, “and the great thing is Bat is not one of those shows where people just slot into a character and are told where to stand and how to move.

“The show was constantly evolving from the moment it opened in Manchester and for performers to have such creative freedom is really refreshing.

“Both Rob and I had so much input into our characters - you invest so much of yourself into them - so in one way getting to play Sloane again is like stepping into a comfortable pair of shows but at the same time, there’s a freedom still to develop the character further.

“And because it’s a new cast around us the dynamic has changed and it’s so refreshing.”

Jim Steinman died earlier this year but he played a key role in Bat Out of Hell to the end.

“He would watch a live stream of the show every night and was massively involved in the whole creative process,” said Sharon. “Even now you can feel him in the room and in the music; this is his legacy.”

The original Bat Out of Hell album released by Meat Loaf became one of the biggest selling albums in history and attracted a loyal fanbase.

“They have been incredibly supportive of the show,” said Sharon. “I’ll never forget the way the theatre erupted on that first opening night. I never thought I’d hear anything like that again but after we’ve all been through so much I get emotional just thinking about coming back to Manchester.”

Bat Out of Hell the Musical, Opera House Manchester, Saturday until October 2. Details from