Starlight Express

From Academic Kids

Starlight Express is a rock musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Richard Stilgoe.

The plot - which takes place as a dream in the mind of a sleeping child - symbolises a nostalgic yearning for old over new, represented onstage with a steam train, Rusty, who overcomes his peers' mockery to beat more modern engines to pole position in a 'World Championship Railroad Race'.

The original production of the show opened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London on March 27, 1984 under the direction of Trevor Nunn, where it played until January 12 2002, having lasted 7406 performances. In November 1992, Starlight Express in London was relaunched featuring heavy revisions to the show's material in terms of musical numbers and plot, some influenced by the productions mounted in Bochum (1988) and on Broadway (1987-1989). The show has also been produced professionally in Las Vegas, Mexico, Japan, Australia and more recently on tour in both the UK and US.

Despite being considered one of the composer's most problematic works owing to his seeming unhappiness with its content (indeed each incarnation has seen substantial alterations to the material), the show remains one of Lloyd Webber's most well-known franchises. The London incarnation holds the record for the second longest-running musical in London theatre history, and the Bochum production to date has sold nearly 10 million tickets, making it the third highest selling musical of all time, behind Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, both running on Broadway.

Plot summary

When children fall asleep, their toys come to life and play, and the engines of the train set are no exception, engaging in a series of races. Contestants include the Union Pacific (better known as Greaseball), a macho diesel train; Espresso (Settobello), an Italian train; Bobo (Sudest), a French train; Electra (AC/DC), a hi-tech electric train.

Alongside all these high-speed trains is Rusty, an outdated steam engine whose lot in life is to pull boxcars Rocky I, II and III, the restaurant car Buffy, the smoking car Ashley, and new addition, Pearl. Not helping Rusty's cause is the guard's van, CB, who would rather sabotage Rusty to pave the way for the future in the form of Electra and Greaseball.

With the help of his guiding star, the Starlight Express, will Rusty be able to prove that there is still life in the old engines against the onslaught of new technology? And will he be able to win the love of Pearl, the carriage of his dreams?

Musical Numbers

Act I.

  • Rolling Stock
  • Whole Lotta Locomotion
  • He'll Whistle at Me
  • Freight
  • AC/DC
  • Pumping Iron
  • Crazy
  • Make Up My Heart
  • Poppa's Blues
  • Laughing Stock
  • Starlight Express

Act II.

  • The Rap
  • U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D
  • Coaches Rolling Stock
  • Wide Smile
  • Right Place Right Time
  • Starlight Sequence
  • One Rock and Roll Too Many
  • Only He
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel
  • Starlight Megamix

de:Starlight Express


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