|Electra, the Engine of the Future
Rich, hot, powerful, flashy, shiny, shiny, shiiiiiiiny.......
*ahem* excuse me.
spinny spinny spinny.
Spinny shiny things make Belle a happy girl.
In other words, Electra is my favourite Engine, due to his glitter, charisma, confidence, impressive skating and blatant bisexuality. He is a complex character, carefully balanced between being overly camp or overly macho. He is supremely arrogant, he toys with the other trains, amusing himself by playing with their little racing game, knowing himself to be far superior, of course. His five components do his bidding without his needing to even utter a command, such is their complete devotion to him.
When the show was written in 1984, Electric engines were being introduced across Britain, with tracks being prepared for electrification (laying electrified rails or overhead wires). Electric trains were very much the future, new in most areas. 20 years on we're all much more accustomed to Electrics and they no longer have the sense of wonder they once did. Nevertheless, a speeding Express thundering through a station at night, showering sparks and electric flashes as it goes, is a magnificent sight.
|Electra's costume represents his Electrical influences, Electric blue, silver and red. The Observer Magazine article shows a very early photo of previews Electra (right) where his Unitard was primarily white, not blue, but otherwise identical to the Original london, and the costume seems unbalanced. His wild wig is reminiscent of the frayed ends of a stripped wire. The skintight unitard is smooth and streamlined, while his shoulders and other packs are bright and eye-catching. Originally in the 80s he was the epitome of Modernity - however these days he is wonderfully retro, an absolute symbol of the 80s. This does rather conflict with his character of the Engine of the Future! His london costume was updated in 1994/95 with the introduction of an flashing red LED panel in his chest box, programmed to scroll across almost like a heart monitor.
Electra's wig has undergone many incarnations, from huge and wild, to neat and short, to being non-existant! John Partridge had his shaven head painted with a nice clear "AC/DC". On Broadway Ken Ard had a rather unimpressive mohawk - until you learn it was his real hair! In the Bochum production the mohawk is attached to his skull-cap and is removed before each race for Electra to properly wear his race helmet. In london, however, his helmet was specially designed to slip around the hair. How effective this would have been in a crash, I don't know, but it saved Electra the indignity of appearing onstage bald! (but then they had John Partridge... go figure.)
Electra has probably featured in more show advertising than any other character, to the point that upon seeing the show, some people are surprised he is not the protagonist!
Electra in the Media
In the book published for the German production's 20th anniversary, they featured "every" Electra over the years, to demonstrate how much the designs have (not) changed over the years. Only, they somehow skipped the most distinctive, spiked wig. I kinda added Paul Jay Dudley myself.
*1990 German cast*
|During the summer of 2001, there was a promotional appearance of Dinah and Electra at Tower Records, piccadilly circus. Woody was out as Electra understudy.|
FANS of Electra