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
AC/DC it's ok by me!
Member Name: Helsieboo
Advantages: Great songs, brilliant atmosphere
Disadvantages: No longer runs
I think I actually shed a tear or two when Starlight Express closed in January 2002, at the Apollo Victoria. I saw it a total of eleven times and enjoyed it more on every occasion.
For those who don't know, StEx is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber, about trains and is performed on roller skates. The story is fairly simple - will the underdog, Rusty the Steam Train, win the big race against the two big guns, Greaseball the Diesel and Electra the Electric Train? Rusty badly wants to win the race, in order to impress and win back his girlfriend, Pearl the Observation Car, from Greaseball, who ditched Dinah the Dining Car for her. Rusty is mentored through 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 form of a ghost or a spirit!
The costumes are fantastic, immaculate, shiny, flashy and detailed. Many of the character wore big wigs and these creations, coupled with the incredible dancing on the roller skates created a completely OTT flamboyancy, which was totally fantastic. The dance skills of the cast were superb and in all the times I saw it, I only ever witnessed people falling over twice and they got straight back up again.
The set was amazing - a stage where most of the perfomance was performed, but there was also race track running around the back of the audience, around the entire theatre, with ramps running up and down. It really gave you a sense of being part of the action.
The music from this is great and I recommend buying the soundtracks. There is a good mix of cheese, which you can't help but sing along to mixed in with more blues-y and rocky numbers. 'Freight,' boasting the simple refrain of 'Freight is Great,' is one of the best numbers, with all the smaller characters introducing themselves and nearly the entire cast taking part. This is followed by the electric 'AC/DC' which introduces Electra, where he sings a powerful solo number, ending with him being surrounded by the entire cast.
Other great songs are the emotional ballard 'Starlight Express (I am the starlight)' where Rusty finally believes that he can do anything he puts his mind to, the cheesy 'Crazy' where the coaches follow Rusty around the stage, calling him crazy for wanting to race and the climatic 'Light at the End of the Tunnel.' This is a truely powerful finale and one you will want to get up and clap your hands to.
I believe it was a real shame that this show closed as it was a real feel-good musical suitable for the whole family. I believe the tour has also stopped and only hope that one day it will get a West-End revival!
Summary: One of my favourite musicals.