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Starlight Express - The Fastest Show on Earth!!
Member Name: NewYork2006
Advantages: Brilliant show, fantastic songs and performances
I love going to the theatre and have always wanted to see Starlight Express at the West End but every time I went to London, I would always end up seeing something else thinking 'I'll watch that next time'. So I was absolutely gutted when on the 12th January 2002 it closed at the Apollo Victoria Theatre after 18 years
Then however, I noticed an advert in the local paper to say that Starlight Express was doing a UK tour and would be 'coming to a theatre near me soon' and was excited. I was even more thrilled when my mum told me she had bought us tickets to go see it for my birthday!
I wasn't sure what to expect as I had heard mixed reviews on it and it was also the only show that I didn't know any of the songs from. Luckily though, I was not disappointed and thought it was fantastic.
Andrew Lloyd Webber initially wrote Starlight Express in 1975 with the intention of making it into an animated movie. It never got off the ground though and so in 1983 he rewrote it in the musical version that opened in March 1984 at the Apollo. The west end show ran for 18 years, making it one of the longest running musicals in London theatre history.
As you are walking into the theatre you are handed a pair of 3D glasses for the show which will come apparent later.
The plot of the show is very simply a child (known as 'The Controller) playing with his toy trains. However, after a while it appears as much more than this and evolves into a love story and a story of hope. & the fact that they perform the entire show on roller skates makes it even more magical and amazing as it is apparent that the 'performers' are not merely actors and singers but they hold amazing strength and stamina.
The intro to the show is fantastic and is basically the Controller introducing us to all the National trains before they are going to race each other.
We are introduced to the Russian 'Siberian Express' train who skates in looking a bit behind the times and very cold. Next is the Japanese Bullet train which is the fastest train at present (so I've been told!) looking very flash and modern. Greaseball is the American diesel train and very clearly the next Danny Zuko from Grease, constantly smoothing down his hair and charming the ladies with his tight trousers. When The Controller announces the arrival of the UK train, nothing appears on screen but a spotlight. Again The Controller announces the UK train but nothing happens. Then a women's voice is heard over the speakers saying 'We apologise for the delay in this service which is caused by unusual weather conditions' - the whole theatre erupted in laughter at the obvious dig at the UK train services. We also meet Rusty, who is sweet and innocent but clearly the underdog as the now dated Steam Train. All the other trains mock him at how slow and old and 'rusty' he is compared to them.
Along with these trains, we also meet the other carriages and cars that are connected to them. These consist of 4 beautiful scantily clad women - Buffy the Buffet Car, Dinah the Dining Car, Ashley the Smoking Car and Pearl the Observation Car. We first meet them when they come in attached to Rusty and they like him because he 'whistles' at them. However, they also think he is a bit dated and a bit embarrassing (apart from Pearl who has a thing for him) and long to be coupled with another, much cooler train. They sing a very catchy upbeat number called 'A Whole Lotta Locomotion'.
Next we meet the Freight train and all its carriages attached. They come in slow and steady singing 'Freight is Great'. The Freight trains consist of Hip Hopper 1, 2, and 3, Dustin (the car that holds all the gravel), Flat Top (the car that holds the bricks) and Caboose (the car that is always at the back on a Freight train).
The races are about to start but then the lights go out and techno type music can be heard and then flashing lights of all colours appears and in zooms Electra with its carriages - Joule, Volta, Purse and Wrench. Electra is the newcomer to the show and the races and in excellent condition. The brand new electric train who thinks himself superior to all the others (and I think he may be gay too!).
Following the entrance of Electra, the other trains then each sing a number about why they are the best train, Greaseball's song I think is the best about him 'pumping iron'.
Rusty begins to tell the others that he wants to enter the races, much to the amusement of the others who tell him there is no possible way he can win etc etc (it is apparent at this stage that Rusty will enter the races and win at the end but it doesn't really spoil the show).
It is now that the races begin. When a race is about to take off, a screen comes down telling you to put on your safety goggles (your 3D glasses) so you can watch the screen while the races are going on. I have heard that t the West End show, the performers would skate up and won the aisles when they were racing but as there was not enough room to do this on the UK tour they changed it for the glasses. It was a bit cheesy but still quite enjoyable to watch and the 3D effects were good.
I wont tell you any more about the story etc as I don't want to ruin it but you get the idea!
There are so many good catchy songs throughout the show, one of my favourites being 'U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D' sung by Dinah which is a funny remake of an old country song.
The show has the feel of the now more commonly used, longer first half with 13 numbers and only 8 in the second half.
All in all I thought this was a fantastic show and if it is coming to a theatre near you soon then I recommend you see it. The intricate detail on their costumes was amazing and the lights and sounds throughout the show were brilliant and fit in well with the plot, they didn't seem to be just used for the sake of it. All of the performers enthralled me and I can honestly say that not one had any faults in my opinion. Some of the singing voices were outstanding and really helped to make the show the amazing performance that it was.
Andrew Lloyd Webber comments on his show as' Starlight was always meant to be fun, hopefully an entertaining piece of live theatre for a new audience. We are proud that the show has spawned a new generation of artists and theatregoers who perhaps never considered going to the theatre before and who may have gone on to other (perhaps more conventional!) things…'
As this was a present I don't know the exact amount of the tickets but I believe that they were about £30 each. However, I would expect that the price of the ticket will depend on the theatre you are seeing it at so you will need to contact your local theatre for that information.
I have checked on their website and the next events will be:
Tuesday 20 March to Saturday 7 April 2007
Box Office: 023 80 711811
Monday - Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm
Thursday & Saturday Matinees at 2.00pm
Tuesday 10 to Saturday 28 April 2007
Ticketmaster: 0870 602 1130
Monday - Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm
Thursday & Saturday Matinees at 2.30pm
Show credits go to:
Music (and story) - Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics - Richard Stilgoe
Orchestrations - David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Designed - John Napier
Casting - Debbie O'Brien
Musical Director - David Rose
Direction and Choreography - Arlene Phillips
Thanks for reading
Summary: Great, foot tapping musical, UK tour
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