STARLIGHT EXPRESS opened to packed houses at the Apollo Victoria in London’s West End in 1984 where it ran for over 7000 performances. It is one of the most successful musicals ever written with the original German production still running in its purpose built theatre in Bochum after 25 years.
Andrew Lloyd Webber originally wrote Starlight for his own children: It follows the dreams of a child whose toy trains come to life to take part in the greatest race of all time.
Although the storyline is well-used – the underdog who wins the race and the love of his life – it’s the spectacle of the skating, the glitz and sheer effort that make this show such an endearing piece of theatre. You would need to be very hard-hearted indeed not to be moved by its charms.
There is certainly plenty to keep the little’ uns as well as the grown-ups amused. The pounding beat of the music and the catchy refrains have both children and adults alike mouthing along. This production is of course, a scaled down version of the original with the famous race scenes now represented through 3D projections, but the dazzling lighting, eye-catching costumes and stunning choreography, as well as the sheer skill and talent of the cast mean that it is hard to fault it.
As Rusty, the steam train who comes out on top, Kristofer Harding (above right) has a charming innocence, as well as a fine voice that endears him to the audience. In complete contrast Jamie Capewell (below right) as Greaseball, is delightfully cocky as the Elvis-style diesel locomotive with the glint in his eye.
Mykal Rand (below centre) is a superbly camp Electra – the villain the children love to hate.
This is an excellent ensemble piece as every member of the highly talented cast literally has to pull their weight as well as each others!
It has a fabulous feel-good factor and you’ll still be smiling long after you’ve left the theatre. If you can get to the Edinburgh Playhouse in the next two weeks – then go – I promise you won’t be disappointed. This is a rare thing; entertaining,charming and heart-warming and shows like this don’t come around very often.