Belle's Domain
Starlight Express

Saturday
After arriving in Bochum late Friday, Saturday was quite a day of tiredness. Neither Mazz nor I slept well. We got up very early, got Ross and Jess to join us soon enough and headed into town for breakfast. Ice cream. For Breakfast. We went to Casa Nova, this rather nice café on the bridge between two buildings. The place with excellent spoons, tho we didn’t have any this time. Then we did a few bits of shopping, then headed up to the theatre to get the tickets sorted. We put out a call for Gaz, who’d not been getting phone calls or text messages, only communicating through facebook. He came out, very happy to see us, “I can’t believe it’s Friday already!” umm… that’d be because it’s Saturday? Anyway, being the bit of a dancer that he sometimes is, he didn’t have the codes for our ticket reservations on him, but was playing Bobo in an hour so had to go get ready. He left us with Chris (?) Stage door lady with most EXCELLENT hair, who’s obviously very, VERY used to dealing with dancers. She took us through to the box office, where they were very worried… we waited, Jess and Ross having approached the Halle from a rather unusual perspective – most people don’t see it backstage BEFORE the foyer and steam train! Eventually it transpired that the problem was they couldn’t find any tickets for that matinee. That was because we didn’t have any reserved, so it was all ok! Tickets acquired, we returned to hotel.

We slept. Then we felt better. We introduced Jess and Ross to Kamps, bakery in the station that sells excellent, cheap filled rolls, exactly the right size of snack for before a show. We returned to theatre feeling refreshed and excited, and had excellent Parkett seats! I won’t go into detail about the show here as I’ve got that typed up on laptop upstairs, but I’ll post when I get home. In a nutshell tho – great performances, WHAT the HELL has happened to act 2??? Act 1 was ok, almost pure “new” London. But act 2 lost the plot COMPLETELY, utterly failed to have any cohesion or logic behind the scenes and character motivations. It made me angry at such deliberate stupidity.

After the show we decided to head back into town by tram. We walked through the rain to the Planetarium station, heard a tram rumble through as we got there… and half an hour to the next one. So, we thought, let’s walk. It’s not THAT far! However it was actually raining quite hard, and we were hungry… we did find our way to Burger King, and boy, junk food was so GOOD right then! We made it back and slept WELL.

(Saturday evening cast list)

Actors collecting for Charity

Sunday

Sunday – was interesting. Mazz and I had bought tickets for both matinee show and evening, but after Saturday’s show we weren’t hugely enthusiastic about sitting through it twice in one day. But Iäm very glad we did! The changes they’ve made in act 2 are so offensively stupid that try as I might to ignore the material and focus on the performances, during the matinee I just got so cross. But by the evening show I was fully expecting the idiocy, and so was able to properly focus on some kick-ass performances, particularly Ben Draper’s Caboose, who is a fantastic character, very much reminiscent of Sylar from Heroes. Coupled with the Dinah looking so like the cheerleader, it’s quite the Heroic show!

Between matinee and evening Mazz and I went to stage door to TRY to get Gaz… and success! He came out and we went and sat in the Ramada garden and had a good gossip. But then he had to get back to sign in for the evening show, and took us in with him as the heavens began to OPEN. Backstage at Starlight smells EXACTLY the same as LOTR! A combination of heavy-duty washing powder and febreeze on sweaty leather, huge fans everywhere trying to keep the air moving… crucial difference being NOT up 8 flights of stairs! Racks of costumes wheeled from wardrobe to dressing positions. The Gang and National costumes work just like Orcs too. Gaz took us into his dressing room – no naked actors at that time – and showed us his Electra stuff as reference for tomorrow. His eyelashes are SO THICK, they’re like spider legs tipped in glitter!!!

We had to emerge when Ross, Jess, and her parents arrived – we’d arranged to meet them at the stage door anyway. So to avoid the rain we went straight into the theatre. Being a busy Sunday evening, the show was almost sold out so we only had separate seats. As Jess’ parents hadn’t seen it before, they took the two closest together at the front, the rest scattered around the parkett. However there were two empty seats by Jess’ mum, so Jess and Mazz moved there and I took Jess’ seat. Much to the irritation of some other girls, who’d apparently ear-marked those seats for their own use but weren’t quick enough. They then wanted Jess’ seat, because I was standing talking, but as I had the actual ticket for that seat (from Jess) there wasn’t any drama.

After the show, we debated stage dooring, but Gaz has mentioned everyone was off for a birthday meal, so we decided dinner was the better option. On walking towards tram, the thunderstorm started… we were tired, hungry, and increasingly damp, and the bright lights of a pizzeria called to us! This was Momo’s, which Heather had recommended in the past – and it was exactly what we needed! Beautiful fresh pizzas, pannacotta for dessert, out of the rain, lovely interesting building and very friendly staff. Amazing thunder storm, full on Carpe Noctem stuff rolling round the sky, huge bright flashes of lightning. We eventually made it back to hotel, dried out, and slept.

Messing about at the hotel...

Monday – went by incredibly fast. We were up pretty early and had breakfast at the hotel. Ice cream for breakfast is great once or twice, before you start needing actual food. So buffet was very nice… we went back upstairs, got stuff like wig styling and stud applying done, as well as a lot of sitting and chatting.

We went into town for lunch a bit late, did some shopping and got subway, then back to hotel, more music from laptop, and then lots of skate practice in hotel corridor! At 6pm, the noise didn’t seem to bother anyone. Then we went down for Sushi. Full marks for effort to Ross, who wasn’t convinced about Sushi, but tried it… and ok, didn’t like it, but gave it a good try. Then we went on to a bar, got Ross a burger there, and cocktails too… yummy!

Tuesday - The Open Day
We got up, breakfasted in hotel, then Ross, Jess and Mazz spent the next 2 hours painting their faces. they all ended up looking amazing - pictures to come once I get home! We got a taxi to the theatre - driver was busy doing his sudoku puzzle, I've rarely seen someone genuinely jump so high when he noticed the trains asking for a lift!

We got there pretty much on 12, took some photos in front of the carriage outside, including getting snapped by (I think) Jens Hauer straight away! Moving wasn't a quick process as they were constantly being stopped for photos, but we got our skate show tickets, and helped the theatre clear out old stock by buying up some old brochures - 2005 stock. All three of them were constantly performing, Electra fizzing and popping, Purse being fabulously elegant, and Krupp menacing behind!

Skate show was great - that theatre set-up really is a 1980s fantasy venue! The lasers, the smoke... There's no denying those trax boys really can skate and a half! The real highlight tho was to have Dinah, Ashley and Buffy perform Girl's Rolling Stock. Usually there's Pearl singing Make Up My Heat, or Dinah singing UNCOUPLED, but to get three performers doing a dance-heavy number was fantastic!

We left the skate show by the doors that led nearest to the cast photo area, and Electra - Andreas Wolfram was on! So Ross did his best to get a photo. Andreas was really taking his time, spending several minutes with each person, and unfortunately JUST as Ross got to the front of the queue, Andreas' time was up and he was replaced by Dinah! Well, Purse flounced off at that - what interest was a Dining car to HIM?

Next we joined the queue to get backstage. It was a long queue. but it was at least moving... Mazz and i had been around before, but it was all new and shiny to Ross and Jess. Mazz was persuaded to pose with Electra's race helmet for a photo, tho she didn't think it'd fit over her wig! Then she got talking to one of the musos in the band room, he was very like our father, intelligent, knowledgable, and rather depressed by the turn of events at Starlight. It seems that before the UK tour, they were clear they could not make the show sound as good as it does with fewer than 17 musicians. Then the penny-pinching boss saw the UK tour with their 8 musicians, and promptly fired the rest in Bochum. The band room is so empty these days... and the music does sound bare and sub-par, especially during the races. The tour races, of course, being entirely pre-recorded, was not an issue having so few musicians.

By this point, Ross and Jess were both feeling a bit weary and over-heated, so we left Mazz to talk while we went on round the rest of the theatre and then back to the main event. Free diet coke was appreciated! Ross and I watched the auction while Jess drank her coke in the shade. There weren't very deep pockets this year, kneepads etc only going for €20 - €40. One of the giant flags, autographed by the cast, sold for near €100 tho! What would you DO with a flag that big??

Once we all met up again, we decided that some time chilling down by the stage door wall would be good before the gala. We just sat, talked, people-watched, relaxed, as they sound-checked and set up for the Gala. By this time it was 5pm, and Mazz had to disappear to head back home. The rest of us watched the Gala - Gaz sang a couple of songs very well, he really does have a gorgeous voice! Various cast members played and sang various songs, then to finish we had some numbers from the show, including Kevin Kohler (TV-boy Rusty) singing "Crazy". He really is a gem of a find, a brilliant little Rusty! And even tho he got the timing wrong at the top of the song he recovered and gave a great performance. And of course, the gala finished with Light at the End of the Tunnel led by Carl Ellis, the fantastic Poppa. His family were standing next to us in the crowd, his little girl was amazed at Jess' blue hair and shiny costume!

And that was the end of the Open Day. We indulged our tired feet/wheels, and took a taxi back to the hotel, de-trained and then..... relaxed.

The Theatre - New Display