Who is this Anita Gates you speak of?

A.G.’s journalistic triumphs over 25 years at The New York Times include drinking with Bea Arthur (at a Trump hotel), Wendy Wasserstein (at an Italian restaurant) and Peter O’Toole (in his trailer on a mini-series set near Dublin). It is sheer coincidence that these people are now dead.

At The New York Times, she has been Arts & Leisure television editor and co-film editor, a theater reviewer on WQXR Radio, a film columnist for the Times TV Book and an editor in the Culture, Book Review, Travel, National, Foreign and Metro sections. Her first theater review for The Times appeared in 1997, assessing “Mrs. Cage,” a one-act about a housewife suspected of shooting her favorite supermarket box boy. The review was mixed.

Outside The Times, A.G. has been the author of four nonfiction books; a longtime writer for travel magazines, women's magazines and travel guidebooks; a lecturer at universities and for women’s groups; and a moderator for theater, book, film and television panels at the 92nd Street Y and the Paley Center for Media.

If she were a character on “Mad Men,” she’d be Peggy.

'Bat Out of Hell' -- Let's Talk About Meat Loaf (and Dream Suppressants)

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 I DID LIKE “Bat Out of Hell: The Musical,” really. When I said I was going to see it at City Center a few weeks ago, friends and colleagues reacted in remarkably different ways. They ranged from “Lucky you!” to “Oh, you poor thing! Do you have to?” Happily, it turned out that one of my frequent press-night guests, BP, was very interested in the show.

This production is based on a 1977 Meat Loaf album (and its sequels). It is filled with killer songs, great numbers that require no context to thrill. Examples: “I Would Do Anything for Love, but I Won’t Do That” (fabulous in this staging), “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” (beautiful), “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (joyous), “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” (perfect) and the title song (lots of fog and colored lights).

So what could be better than a little context? Usually known, in stage terms, as a book.

The musical is set at some point in the future, after the Chemical Wars — whatever they are ( I suspect climate change is probably central). A rich, overprotected girl (Raven, played by Christina Bennington) is turning 18, and she’d much rather celebrate by exploring the great big world out there than by cowering in the protected universe to which her parents have restricted her.

Her parents’ worst crime: They gave her dream suppressants! Now I don’t know what those consist of pharmaceutically in the years after the Chemical Wars, but I’m pretty sure my own mother and father got hold of some early formulation, so I completely empathize.

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TOUGH KIDS Andrew Polec and the ensemble get serious about the title number, “Bat Out of Hell.”

Somehow Raven manages to meet Strat (Andrew Polec), who is part of the outside world and a hot number and — for reasons that I never got quite clear — will be 18 years old forever. Raven will age normally. (Shades of the premise of “Tuck Everlasting,” which lasted a whole month on Broadway three years ago.)

In a flashback, we see Raven’s parents young again, dancing and grooving in and around a sexy blue convertible. Even their faded relationship may undergo changes during the two acts. It could go either way.

Here and there, the staging is intriguing. The most memorable feature of Raven’s upstairs bedroom is an altar of sorts, topped by rows of flickering candles, the kind you’d see along the interior walls of a cathedral.

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FOREVER YOUNG Raven (Chrstina Bennington) and Strat (Polec), who will never get older than 18, hang out in her bedroom.

Pretty much every Broadway and Off Broadway show these days takes advantage of projection design, but “Bat Out of Hell” does it in a particularly meta way. In the bedroom, we see both the action and a videographer shooting the action. At the same time, stage right/house left, we see a screen showing close-ups of the scene that is being recorded at exactly the same time. At other times, we just see high-action images.

The show’s athletic choreography is solid if not transporting. Jim Steinman, who wrote the book, music and lyrics, deserves a round of applause. Both he and Meat Loaf are in their early 70s now and still going strong.

Some of my favorite theater conversations have taken place in the ladies’ room line during intermission. This time the woman directly in front of me in line was marveling over what Meat Loaf’s album had meant to her 16-year-old self. Seeing it come to life that night, she said, was revelatory.

When that woman was 16, I was busy transitioning (not that that’s a real word) from hippie to preppie, trying desperately to skip disco queen. I am very glad to have been reminded of these seductive songs, which I barely noticed at the time.

“Bat Out of Hell: The Musical,” City Center, 131 West 55th Street, 212-581-1212. Limited run. Closes on Sept. 8.



And the Fall Broadway Openings Begin!

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