“ Apollo Victoria Theatre, Wilton Road, SW1. Tel: +44 (0)20 7416 6054. Nearest tube: Victoria. Mon-Sat 7.45pm (150mins). Andrew Lloyd Webber. „
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!
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.
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!!!!
I first went to see Starlight Express on a school trip about 14 years ago, and ever since then it was my ambition to one day appear in the show! Of course that never happened but I have been back to see the show twice since then and thought I would share my experiences with you.
~ The Show ~
Starlight Express was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice and opened in March 1984 at the Apollo Victoria in London. It eventually ran for 18 years before closing in January 2002, however the show still tours theatres across the country. It is the only West End production to be performed totally on rollerskates.
The show and it's songs have been revamped a number of times over the years but the main storyline remains the same. It is said that Andrew Lloyd Webber based it loosely on Cinderella, only with trains! The original set in the Apollo Victoria consisted of a stage with a skating bowl and also some race tracks that went around the outside of the theatre around the audience.
~ Main Characters ~
Rusty - A young steam train who doesn't get much respect from the other trains. He wishes he could enter the races and win to show them what he's made of.
Greaseball - A diesel train who looks and acts a lot like Elvis and fancies himself rather too much.
Electra - An electric train, "the Engine of the Future". Travels everywhere with his 5 component trucks and likes to "wow" everybody.
The Coaches - Pearl, Dinah, Ashley, Buffy and Belle.
The Freight Trains - Flat-Top, CB, Dustin, Rocky 1, 2 & 3.
Poppa - an ex-champion steam train.
~ Storyline ~
The main story line focuses on Rusty, a steam train with big dreams, but whom nobody takes seriously as they think he is slow and old fashioned.
Rusty falls in love with Pearl, the observation car, but when Rusty decides to enter the race, he asks Pearl to race with him and she turns him down. Instead she decides to race with late entry Electra. Rusty turns to Poppa, an ex-champion steam train who tells him about the "Starlight Express", a mythical midnight train who helps other trains in distress.
Rusty calls upon the Starlight Express to help him. Will he find the strength to stand up to the other trains and win the race? Will he get his girl in the end? You'll have to watch the show to find that out!
~ My Opinion ~
I think this show is great fun. Admittedly a lot of the music and lyrics are very cheesy and tongue in cheek but as long as you expect it to be like the you will have a great time.
It is a real shame that this show no longer has a permanent base at the Apollo Victoria. The theatre had built in race tracks and the actors performed each of the races live at every show. Obviously that isn't possible now that the show is on tour. To get around this problem a series of slightly bizarre 3D films have been recorded, one for each race. You get given 3D glasses to watch them with on arrival. This has definitely taken something away from the show, but that's not to say that it isn't worth seeing now. There is plenty more skating throughout the show.
I saw the show twice at the Apollo Victoria and then once last year in Birmingham. They have added a couple of new songs since I saw it in London which I didn't really like to be honest, and the one song I used to love has been taken out. I just think, if it's not broke don't fix it!
Electra's song is still the same and I think this is one of the most impressive moments of the show with regard to special effects, music and great costumes combined.
Despite a few niggles I still love this show and it is great fun for all the family, especially the kids. I would still go and see it again.
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
My family are a bit of a cheesy bunch. In fact, we've got a distinct air of the Von Trapp surrounding us including impromptu in-car sing-songs that make my big sister's boyfriend cringe. It really is no surprise then that we're not strangers to musical theatre.
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.
***** Another opening, another show
Some shows you see and notice each number as they go by. Starlight on the other hand is much more fluid, and it wasn't until AC/DC that I realised the preceding bit had been 4 distinct numbers and not just one long opening one. The show follows the current trend for longer first halves, with 12 numbers then to a mere 8 after the interval. The story is not laid out in the program, but is easy to follow given the presence of an off screen announcer who keeps you up to speed, not to mention the lyrics which are lovely and meaningful for once. The stage in Manchester extends out into the audience which is a pain if you're not sitting in the stalls, but also not that impressive that I wished I'd added another £50 to the price of an already expensive ticket (We sat at the front of the gallery and paid £25 - in comparison we saw Kiss Me Kate at the other big local theatre and paid £20 for front row circle seats). On some of the bits where the extended stage ramp is used, large screens descend from the top of the stage to show you the action as it happens. On others these don't appear, but there are still people on stage singing and dancing so you're not left with absolutely no one to look at.
The sole set for Starlight is very plain - no more than a curved ramp at the back of the stage that separates and re joins as if by magic to allow performers on and off at times when coming in from the wings would simply be beneath them. There are no set changes apart from this, and no backdrops swooshing up and down. The starlight appears only very briefly (for Rusty's epiphany - see below) but the constant stage contact of the expresses means the show's title is not entirely redundant.
***** So I wanna know...what's the name of the train?
All the characters in the show and trains or carriages of some sort. The Electric train Electra, the show's answer to Llandewi Breffi's own Daffyd Jones, is the only gay on the tracks. Or if not gay then at least the campest train in town. Then there's the British train, invariably delayed due to the wrong type of weather, there being no leaves on these tracks on which to blame it. The Russian train, very Eastern Bloc, all worn out parts and out dated design only makes it part of the way through before collapsing into a pile. The diesel train Greaseball, a modern day Danny Zuko, is constantly teasing his coiffed black hair. And of course Dusty who is just as his name would suggest, and naively innocent too. There are the backing characters, from the self-appreciating freight trains (who like to sing 'Freight...is great') to the aptly named passenger cars - Dinah the dining care, Ashley the smoking car, Buffy the buffet car. The focus starts on the differences between an international group of trains with a race to determine the fastest of the bunch, but this soon evolves into a contest between different fuel types from steam to diesel to electric.
***** Faster than fairies, faster than witches, broomsticks and houses, hedges and ditches
Starlight Express is about a race between the different trains. I first saw Starlight Express in Bochum 14 years ago. I was 8 at the time, and it was performed in German so I can only vaguely recall that version, but there are some things that they have obviously changed for the UK tour, and this race is one of them. In the German stage version the race took place live on tracks that went up above the stage and even extended partly into the audience. In the new touring production the race is shown on 3D screens (the reason for them handing you your 'safety goggles' when you arrive at your seat) and has been totally pre-recorded (just like the crucifixion in the German version of Jesus Christ Superstar). Once you've got over the fact that you're in a theatre....but watching a film, you're just struck by the fact that it's so naff it's actually good. Think Power Rangers. Think other bad children's TV shows. It's a cop out in a way, but totally understandable given that this is a touring version and won't be playing at the Opera House for evermore.
***** He was a sk8ter boi, she said see you later boy, he wasn't good enough for her
Someone once said that there are only a handful of stories in the world, and these just get re-hashed and re-jigged into appearing like new tales in different contexts. One such story has to be the boy meets girl, boy looses girl one which is the base for Starlight Express. Rusty runs on steam, the lowest in the train hierarchy that also includes diesel and electric power. He's in love with Pearl, one of the passenger carriages, so asks her to partner him in the race, but when she's also approached by the super new and shiny sequined Electra, she doesn't know who to choose. Cue the song 'Make up my heart'.
***** Skate then wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Skating, said he
The whole show is done on roller skates. The 4 wheel kind. It's different for a musical as obviously they can't dance as well in them (though they do try) but is very much like watching ice dancing or similar. The performers are all technically playing trains, but these are wondrous machines with human abilities - they can sing and dance, they can laugh and cry, they can backstab and they can have epiphanies in which the eponymous hero appears to them and makes them see sense - Starlight Express is their God, a true Lord of the Skating. But of course. For a cast of whom only one is a professional skater by trade, they do enormously well. Last time I checked roller-skating was not on the syllabus at Laine Theatre Arts but though the choreography is in some ways simple, the pull off the skating as well as they do the singing and token bits of dancing.
***** I wanna hold your, I wanna hold your, I wanna hold your....bum?
Since trains are couple together, dancers pretending to be trains need to be too, and in the touring version this is done by handles at the top of each performers bum for those travelling directly to hang on to. Lovely. The costumes are interesting in other ways, too. The girls are in typical ice dancer / slutty musical corps - little dresses with tiny skirts, cleavage inducing corsets, suspenders and fishnets over un-comfy looking thongs (one turns and thrusts her bum at you in one number meaning you can see her underwear from the Gallery level, even without opera glasses in hand). The men are more covered up but hardly get off lightly - thick body suits with a mix of flashing lights, body panels and head dresses of bricks, topped off with bizarre face paint rather than make up. They don't look like any of the trains I've ever seen at Piccadilly, but somehow it works on stage.
***** Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun - it's just the stars that are going on tour
Starlight Express played in London for 18 years before closing in 2002. During that time there were also American and Australasian tours, and long running productions in New York, Las Vegas, Germany, Mexico and Japan. Now it's back with a 8 month UK tour which started in Manchester on 1st Nov. From here it's off to Sunderland, Bristol, Oxford, Edinburgh and Southampton ending up in Liverpool in June next year. See www.reallyuseful.com/Shows/Starlight/show_home.asp for more details.
I thought the production was fab - it was a really showy-show, lots of glam and glitter, with a highly trained cast, interesting characters and unexpected bursts of technology to liven it up. I sat in the uncomfortable gallery seats but hardly noticed as I was transfixed the whole time. Absolutely well worth seeing if you're ever near a production of it, and keep an eye out for the UNCOUPLED song because it's hilarious.
It has been a while since I saw this production, but speaking to a couple that saw it only a month ago, it doesn't seem to have changed in that it is still universally held by all that have seen it as a marvellous musical. The idea is pretty unique, and whilst it may sound naff, it comes off very well. Trains, rollerskates and some very moving songs are the orders of the day and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every second of this modern classic. No wonder this show has been so successful: it has all the ingredients of great family entertainment and it works on all levels. It is very dynamic and active, one of the runways goes all around the stalls - the theatre must have taken ages to adapt to it!
i may be a theatre snob... well, actually, i know i am a theatre snob.. BUT... Starlight Express has got to be the biggest pile of theatre dreck i've ever subjected myself to... and i've subjected myself to a lot. having a masters in musical theatre, i consider myself as a girl in the know when it comes to such matters.. Starlight Express, while a nice flashy, pretty show... basically has a weak plot and score.. the new updated theatre layout was pretty cool, since the skaters now surround you on all sides (we were in the back of the stalls) however, the actors' lack of energy and mediocre singing ability made the performance absolutely.... mediocre. a good one to go see if you are easily impressed... or have children.. but please don't expect much of a storyline.. or energized actors.. the 5 minute reprise of every song at the end was unbearable.. "there's a light at the end of the tunnel.." yeah, it's called the street light, which i saw as a i hastily beat a path outta there after the show!
I went so see Starlight Express 2 years ago, expecting some poxy little theatre with a load of idiots on roller blades. I was completely wrong! I've never seen anything so fast paced in my life! The actors are some of the best I've ever seen (and believe me, I've seen a few!), the atmospere is friendly and relaxed. The food and drink is a little pricey, but it is the London West end! The seats are fairly priced for what they are, but you get a great view from wherever you sit! Even the so called 'restricted view' seats have a good view, I would say one of the best. I would recommend standing tickets to those who wish to interact with the actors. I think it's the best place to be. It does, however get tiring, standing for so long, but it is great veiw, and also the cheapest. I recommend it to anyone who's had enough of the 'normal' musicals, and wants something a little different. Dinah706
What can I say. I love this musical. I really do. I've seen it sixteen times now, which has to tell you something. Let's start at the beginning. Starlight Express is a (sung-through, ie no dialogue sequences) musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe. It's about railway trains, and performed entirely on rollerskates. The inside of the theatre (which is conveniently and suitably located opposite Victora Station) contains a huge racetrack, over three levels - also a specially sloped stage, and a three ton 'bridge' which joins the different levels of track, and rotates and whirls about above the stage. The lighting, the sound, the songs, the lyrics, the dancing and the skating are all superb. Starlight Express live is something completely different from just listening to the CD - the track completely encircles the stalls, and you really feel part of the action. If you like dancing, skating, trains or Andrew Lloyd Webber, you have to see this show.
I saw Starlight a few years ago. I paid £2.50 to get in at the last minute and stand at the back of the auditorium. (Not sure whether that still goes on or not!) I had no idea what to expect, and not being a great fan of Webber, prepared for the worst to happen. How wrong I was. It seems that when he needs to keep an idea very simple, he can make it work. The songs are incredibly corny, but as the whole show is aimed at kids, it works fine. It does rely heavily on effects. The staging is superb, as are the costumes. Even if you don't like the story or the songs, this show is worth seeing for the energy that comes off the stage. I have enough trouble standing in rollerskates let alone dancing in them. The performers deserve every piece of applause they receive when the show finishes. It's not a show I'd choose for a romantic night out - but If I had to take my 6 year old nephew to see something, this would be the one. Infact, he's seen it three times already. I would say that the ideal age is probably 5 - 12 year olds. It was written for his child, so that's exactly who he's aimed it at. This is one for all the family. I would almost suggest not to sit in the middle of the stalls, because from what I could see, those who were missed out on so much of the action that happened around them. The further back, the better on this one.
Starlight Express really is UNIQUE- it's the most amazing show I've ever seen! From the moment you enter the theatre, you're in the surreal world of a little boy's dream. Starlight Express, on the surface, is about a train set, who come to life in the Boy (Control)'s dream. They race, fall in love, split up, get back together again... But the show's also about believing in yourself, finding the power to achieve the impossible! Also True love will out, forgiveness despite bad spelling... ;o) The show's performed entirely on Rollerskates, and, if nothing else, you'll be impressed by the speed and acrobatics of the performance! The current London cast are possibly one of the best ever, everyone's a strong singer, dancer, skater. Although the show's aimed at families, there's a lot more to it than that! Beware if you take inquisitive young kids, you might find yourself explaing the phrase "AC/DC it's O.K. by me!" the show does have some adult overtones, which, i think, don't offend many people, as they're cleverly done, and can all be assumed to be, well, talking about trains! AC/DC, after all, DOES refer to forms of electric power, doesn't it? ;o) Also, it's possible to buy standing tickets an hour before the show. You stand at the back of the stalls, but as the Apollo Victoria's not a large theatre, this is very good value, for only £8.00! IN CONCLUSION... (I got here!) Starlight Express is a show that really you must see for the experience! The Music's great, the plot's easy (some'd say, non-existant) the costumes are fantastic, and there's depth there, almost hidden, but it might just set you thinking! ###Belle### How's that for a 1st comment?
This is yet another musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is the second longest running musical in the West End, second only to Cats. I went with my two teenage daughters about 4 years ago, and I think they expected to hate it. It was the only only musical we could get tickets to at the time. The theatre is small, and the stage positioned in such a way that all seats are close to the stage. There is a model train track around the theatre which would be an immediate hit with younger children, and keep them entertained before the show starts. The story line is certainly a little on the weak side, but the action and special effects more than makes up for this. The storyline is based on a race between the different types of locomotive ie: steam, diesel, and electric. The trains are played by men, and the carriages by women. And.......as in every good Andrew Lloyd Webber musical there is tear jerking romance. Yes trains do have a lovelife!!!!! The main thing to mention here is that the whole thing is done on roller skates. The fastest part of which takes place on a track above your heads around the theatre. It is full of energy and speed, with a generous dose of lights, lasers, and fibre optics. I dont expect this show could go to a different theatre as the set up must be incredibly expensive. So if youre in London don't miss it. Its a treat. Without a doubt this is not to be missed for younger children and train spotters! But.....my 2 teenage daughters had to admit they enjoyed it, and yes I have to admit it .........I even shed a tear!!!!(but thats Andrew Lloyd Webber for you).
I guess i went with false expectations about this musical . I love music and musicals and all things like that. I was guessing and hoping that starlight would be worth seeing . I can't say it was all bad , coz it wasn't . Its bad points - it had no story , a few races , and lots of confusion , also i was sat in the circle and i couldn't even see all the races so had no idea what was happening . I thought the singing was good esp an duet by a man and a woman . Major bad point ... i had no idea what was going on , i may be dense of something , but i was a bit bored and felt most of the whole cast songs sounded the same . After all me dissing of this show ... i must say it was worth seeing coz it was music and music is great . I don't think i would see it again unless i won tickets or something like that . I also have the opinion that you really need to eb younger to go and see it . You would probably have a beter idea of what was going on . Also being about trains wasn't my idea of fun coz i am not really into trains . I did find it confusing and i did get a bit bored , but i enjoyed the night out with my friends and i enjoyed the quality of the singing , it was good entertainment , but i would put it near the bottom of my list of favourite musicls. Sorry ... that is my honest opinion. I would go and see it if yuo havn't seen it , just coz i think it's worth seeing if you like music/musicals , just don't go in thinking it'll be the best thing u ever see .