Starlight Express | Review
Simply put, Starlight Express was 2 hours of whirling and colourful excitement, accompanied by amazing vocals and enhanced with impressive soundtracks from the high-voltage team of Lloyd Webber and David Yazbek. Starlight Express tells a children’s story of trains coming to life and racing each other, not forgetting the romance aspect to it in which Rusty tries to capture the heart of Pearl, the first-class observation car. The occasional adult jokes and innuendos brought about chuckles, but were subtle enough to go over the heads of the children who were captivated by the songs and colourful costumes. Adding a modern twist to this legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that burst into theatres in the 80s, the races were done in 3-D which had the audience gasping and ducking as virtual shards of metal flew at their heads.
It was heartening to see that despite slight changes being made to adapt to the changing times, Starlight Express still retained their 80s flair with their classic roller skates and their timeless costumes. The story of Starlight Express itself spoke of modern, electronic trains racing with steam trains.
Electra (played by Mykal Rand) was one of the characters that stood out the most. It wasn’t just because of the carriages that clearly thought very highly of him, as one can tell from them constantly singing praises of him. His ostentatiously tall Mohawk combined with his glittery makeup and his blue and red costume naturally drew all eyes on him. In fact, he had all eyes on him right from the get-go – making his first appearance descending from the ceiling, suspended on wires. Rather flamboyant and overly confident, Electra added comedic value to the more sombre scenes by randomly getting a word or two in, and cutting Rusty off when he was about to break into a sad song.
The only thing that was rather disappointing was the sound mixing. The music was occasionally louder than the cast, drowning out their voices and making the words rather undecipherable. Despite that, I was extremely impressed by their pitch perfect vocals, considering how they were moving around on skates while singing. I particularly liked Pearl’s (played by Leanne Garretty) voice. Her voice was powerful without coming off as too strong, yet had a soft, feminine edge to her singing.
Starlight Express ended on a high with all the cast onstage, singing a medley of all the songs in the musical, with the steam train Poppa leading. I must admit that this was my favourite part of the whole musical. The way all the songs combined together as a summary to show the progression of the whole story was entertaining, somewhat like rereading the blurb of a book that you’ve finished reading.
Snippets of the songs could be heard as some of audience delightedly sang it as they filed out of the theatre, their voices leaving a trail of the magic and fantasy that was Starlight Express.
Text and images by: Arynah Aminuddin
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