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
Skating to a theatre near you
Member Name: Littlegreenlady
Advantages: Amazing musical
Disadvantages: Not on tour very often
I do love a good musical and whilst it may not be a "classic" like Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables, Starlight Express is an incredibly fast and clever show.
Firstly, once you get over the amazement of the entire cast performing a musical on roller skates, the songs get to you - they are catchy, and funny, and enjoyable and stay in your head long after you've seen the show.
At one point, it was the longest running musical on the West End. Sadly its term ended and now it tours around the UK. Not that it's a big problem, since its tour in 2006 gave me the chance to actually see it performed on stage, but it does mean that the huge set, where the performers would race around the tracks, was dismantled and now the racing action is on a 3D screen instead.
The storyline is based around trains. Right at the start you hear a small boy playing with his train set and introducing the main characters. The trains are competing in a series of races to see who is the fastest. Rusty, an old steam train, wants to take part but is mocked for being too old and steam driven compared to the newer Greaseball, the diesel and Electra, the electric trains. Rusty is in love with a carriage, Pearl and wants to race with her, but she is in love with her dream train and chooses to race with Greaseball instead. Rusty goes off to find the Starlight Express in the hope that he will help Rusty to win the race and Pearl's heart.
Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music and Richard Stilgoe the lyrics. It is billed as a rock musical and breaks away from the usual Webber/Rice partnership for other musicals. The original Starlight Express was performed in London in 1984 and was directed by Trevor Nunn. Arlene Phillips choreographed the show. The basic format of the show has stayed the same but in 1992 "The New Starlight Express" was launched. This replaced several of the songs with newly written ones and with the addition of a rap and a mega-mix at the end of the show. Some minor characters were changed or written out and the plot tweaked slightly as a result. A new soundtrack was released and this is the CD which is available for the show.
The show has toured all over the world and in Germany it is the most popular musical. It is permanently based in Bochum where they have rebuilt the original racing track in the theatre.
I was delighted to have got the chance to see the musical and loved seeing it on stage. Whilst I wish I could see it where the characters actually do race rather than the 3D version, when a screen comes down and shows race footage in 3D, it is still a fantastic experience. Not being very proficient on roller skates myself, I was in awe at the dancing and the moves which the performers are able to produce, whilst singing at the same time. It's just such a bouncy musical, and something a bit different, but just as professionally produced as any other West End production. Catch it when it skates to your nearest theatre.
Summary: Get your skates on to your nearest theatre...
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