Newest Review: ... the story by Poppa, another old steam train who once won the race, and the Starlight Express, who is best described as a train in the... more
Starlight Express, answer me 'Yes!'
Member Name: pmcds
Advantages: Great stage show
Disadvantages: Doesn't run as much as it used to
If you're lucky enough to catch Stralight Express on stage, make sure you live every moment of it. I have seen it twice, and each time was in competely different circumstances, at different times of the day, with different people. Both times I absolutely loved it.
The Apollo Victoria was a perfect setting. The same place that I took my wife to watch Wicked the year before last, the Apollo is conveniently located, easily accessible by road, foot or tube. The first time I went, I was visiting a friend, and we went with her mum's school and their pupils on a special school outing in the afternoon. The second time, I went with my then girlfriend, at night. Both times, the experience was amazing.
The whole thing is set around a bunch of trains, different types and styles tailored to different countries. They only come out at night, with the concept being that they are special races that a kid creates once his parents have put him to bed. They are then special trains that the boy invents and makes race in the middle of the night.
However, much as Toy Story does, the trains actually become alive, race each other for glory, and sing a bunch of cool songs. It's also the story of the underdog, with poor old freight train Rusty vying for carriage car Pearl's affections against race champ Greaseball, the rock'n'roller of the circuit. However, along comes the new electric train, Electra, and the rivalry becomes threeway, with Rusty seemingly having no hope against these two heavyweight modern trains.
What's special about this show is the use of the stage and its surroundings, with the outside run of the audience's seats being used as part of the racetrack. This means that the cast actually skate around you. Also, there is a small section of seating towards the front that is surrounded by a small mini square of track, completely safe, protected by plastic casing, where the cast can skate around that little section, too.
The train element of the musical means that every single cast member is on roller skates. This is how they do the races, with people holding onto their backs to form a series of carriages like a train would do. The music fits the story perfectly, with interludes from the kid who has supposedly dreamt them up. Most of the songs serve as intros for the various racers, or at least the main characters, while others tell the story of how some of the racers and the carriages link up. Rusty is the lead character, the one the show focuses on, and his eternal belief that there is a greater being out there, the Starlight Express, is his driving force. The end song, Starlight Sequence, is a fantastic display.
I thoroughly recommend watching this if you get the chance. I don't know if it is still running, or if it is to be repeated elsewhere in the country, but I highly recommend it. I would happily go and watch it again given the chance. It's a great couple of hours of entertainment, easy to follow plot, and great to watch, especially with some of the skating going on around. Rolling Stock!!!!
Summary: Lloyd Webber's roller skating stage musical