Belle's Domain

UK tour 2004-08

The first (And, apparently, second - two separate productions?) UK Tour of Starlight Express started in Manchester in November 2004, produced by David Ian and Clear Channel Productions, in association with Troika Entertainment, who had been responsible for the previous year's US tour. The UK Tour was a clear link following the US, using the same costumes, pre-recorded 3D races, song material etc. Following on 2 1/2 years after the Original London production closed, the tour seemed somewhat alien - its heritage being strongly American, with its roots from the 2nd US Tour, which came from Vegas, First US tour, directly back to the Broadway production of 1987. It had more in common with the German production than the London.

The restrictions of fitting a show like Starlight Express into regional theatres meant many compromises had to be made in terms of set and skating, and the constant effort to modernise, to capture the imagination of the young audience had led to a minimised plot, new songs and characters. Not, in my opinion, changes made with a mind to retain the theatrical integrity of the show - after all, behind the skates, the lights, the big songs, this is essentially a story, and that story felt somewhat lost.
2004-2005 cast 2006-2007 cast 2007-2008 cast 2012 Production

UK Tour 2012

Bill Kenwright picked up the rights to tour Starlight Express in 2012, causing some surprise - notorious for his tight budgets, how could Kenwright make the most of such an extravagant show as Starlight Express? What further cutbacks would be made? In answer, Kenwright has basically recycled the previous tour. The set has been overhauled with the addition of LED screens across the otherwise blank upstage wall, but otherwise remains the same. The general look of the show hasn't changed, the same tired old costume pieces, but the musical arrangements and choreography have been very successfully overhauled. Also, "Girls' Rolling Stock" has been re-introduced, with choreography more strongly reminiscent of Greaseball's version of the song, making the girls stronger and sassier than ever.

Two major changes have occurred to the 2012 tour - unsurprisingly, yet another love song has been shoe-horned in to the 11th hour slot, this time however, "I Do", written by Alistair Lloyd Webber and Nick Coler. While there is something charming about Alistair contributing to the show originally dedicated to him as a child, this contribution is banal, bland, instantly forgettable, overly long and involved the most cringe-worthy choreography - *clap, clap, Punch!* stolen directly from "We Will Rock You"! In the middle of a love song?
The other major change, which came right out of the blue, is that Ashley the Smoking Car has been re-branded as Duvay the Sleeper. As of yet, no major change to her costume, the minor addition of two pillows on her head that look for the world like pop tarts, and the sign on her necklace now reads "sleeper" not "smoking". While in concept this makes sense, after all Smoking Carriages are anachronistic and not a great role-model, in practice this needs more work to create a convincingly different character. WE shall see, perhaps such changes will occur on the road.