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Oil Is A Word That Comes Straight From the Diesel
Member Name: GuruOnAMountain
Date: 10/04/05, updated on 20/05/05 (975 review reads)
Advantages: Unusual., Fast paced., Fun and amusing.
Disadvantages: Plot is extremely predictable., Use of the video screens is a bit of a let-down.
My dad has always harped on about wanting to see Starlight Express, and since it finally has moved out of London in it's new guise as Starlight Express 3D I decided to buy tickets for Christmas, and so it was that we set off to the Edinburgh Playhouse last night.
When we arrived and went inside, the first thing I noticed was that the programmes were relatively cheap. In my experience you can't usually buy a programme for less than a fiver, but they were selling for only £3. Of course, the merchandise stand was set-out, but we happilly by-passed this and headed off to our seats. Some 3d 'Safety Goggles' got handed to us as we made out way to our seats.
Starlight Express is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about a train race. Doesn't sound particularly exciting, does it? However, as all the cast are wearing roller skates, it makes it a bit different from his other musicals. Since not all theatres can be set out to accommodate this rather unusual musical, Starlight Express 3D has large screens showing the race parts of the show in 3D.
The voice of 'Control' introduces the show (the voice of a child playing with his train set), and all the characters are introduced individually. Certainly, the lay-out of the stage is quite impressive, as are the costumes. Of course, the skating is impressive, and for the first few numbers you can't believe that the performers are moving around on skates so effortlessly without falling on their butts.
The show is split into the introduction of the characters, followed by two 'heats' for the final race, and then in the second half the action leads up to the big race itself. Of course, we need something to fill out the space in between and that 'something' emerges to be the love story between one of the carriages called Pearl and the steam engine Rusty.
It is clear from the start of the show who the main protagonists are going to be: namely, Rusty the steam engine, Greaseball the diesel engine and Electra the electric engine, and the plot is pretty transparent from the start, too.
I felt that the lyrics could be quite difficult to make out at times, although the story is self-explanatory, so this doesn't hinder your enjoyment too much. However, I didn't feel the music was as good as the music in other Lloyd-Webber musicals, and the show relied on being much more visually impressive.
The main characters are all distinct from each other and can be identified easily, although at times it could be difficult to tell the trains apart on the filmed race scenes.
The novelty of it being set on wheels wears off eventually, and then you feel a bit disappointed. It is so obvious where the story is going that you don't even get excited when the final race takes place. This musical certainly wont stir the emotions as much as other musical productions such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables, but it does have quite a lot of humour in it such as the 3 Hip-Hoppers and Dinah the dining carriage singing her song U-N-C-O-U-P-L-E-D in the second half.
It is quite a fun musical and certainly one that might appeal to a younger audience and some of the stunts that are performed on the skates are undeniably impressive, but I've certainly seen better shows in my time. It definately is unusual, though, with the performers being on skates and the use of the 3D videos, but it is extremely light-weight, even when compared to other musicals.