Starlight Express - Greasepaint and Stage Lights - Theatre Radio Show

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Starlight Express

Starlight Express
Troubadour Theatre (Wembley)
(Review Complete)
(Click here for Narration)

Rusty and Co have been on a long, ever changing train journey. 40 years after their first appearance in the West End, via numerous revised productions, a re-imagined Starlight Express has raced into the Troubadour Theatre, Wembley. Directed by Luke Sheppard and choreographed by Ashley Nottingham this production takes the story to new dimensions, making this feel both like an evolution of the original show and a brand-new musical.

The show takes us into a child’s dream, as their model trains come to life and race against each other. Can the steam engine Rusty still compete against the diesel and electric engines and impress the first-class observation car, Pearl?
The thrill of the show is in the spectacle rather than the story line. While the music works for the story and characters, it doesn’t match the quality of some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other shows - but it doesn’t need to. For the entire show I wore a smile from ear to ear.

The Troubadour provides a fantastic space that brings the show very much into the 21st century. The purpose-built set, backed by video screens, and incorporating stunning LED lighting, incorporates a grandstand, central performance space, massive ramps and skating tracks that weave through the immersed seating, with the skaters wearing trackers that link to the lighting, sound and video as they skate round.

This production brings fantasy sci-fi, Marvel and Mario Kart influences together and presents an eclectic and exciting mix of styles in the music and in the roller skating. The costumes are pop-influenced and futuristic yet still embody the spirit of the train. The engines convey a sleek and shiny, exterior while the carriages evoke their individual interiors.

In a change from the original production, Control remains on stage throughout the show, bringing a child’s perspective to the dream action. Nationalities are no longer depicted, as the settings take us beyond the real world, and the engines and carriages are no longer male and female respectively, but largely gender neutral. The addition of a new character Hydra brings the story up to date and Ramblin’ Poppa is now Momma McCoy. The characterisations feel much more relevant to today.

It’s a joy to see that the majority of the young cast are making their professional debut in this production. Their enthusiasm and infectious energy are evident throughout. All have been through a 12-week boot camp to develop their skating skills and hats off to them for making it look so effortless and so thrillingly stylish. Individual performances were excellent all round, but the real strength comes from the way the entire cast works so effectively together.

For exhilarating entertainment, get your skates on and head to the Troubadour Theatre.

Reviewers:  Alastair Woodgate
Greasepaint and Stage Lights

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