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Starlight Express

2006, review

If you've not seen Starlight Express before, going to see it on tour is definitely a novel experience. There's not many plays that are conducted entirely on roller skates, and Starlight Express is certainly the original and the best. Amy and I went to the local Milton Keynes theatre which has several advantages over going down to London; firstly, it's only a few minutes drive back home again afterwards, and secondly, since it was built in the last 10 years, the seats are actually not only comfortable, but there's enough leg room (even for tall people like me) and even when there's someone tall sitting in front of you (me again) the seats are arranged so that you can easily see over their heads. It's a lot more pleasant than our previous trip(s) down to London's theatres, or even Broadway in NY.

Having seen the original London production a couple of times, the Starlight Express on tour is not as good as the original. That's probably not surprising; the original production extended the skating track into the audience and around the upper circle; you can invest in that if you're staying at one place (the Apollo) for a long time, but probably not worth it for 3 weeks in a local theatre. Instead, they showed the races on a projection screen in 3D with polarised lenses. To be honest, most of the 3D effects were the gimmicky things flying towards you, but it helped to explain the story line without too much extra cost.

The music was mostly pretty good, and though you got the feeling that it wasn't quite as polished as it could have been, it was certainly enjoyable. A few of the songs had been updated (either musical style or words) and there were one or two songs which weren't in the original, possibly to extend the running time.

I'm glad that I went to see it, but unlike the original London production, I probably wouldn't want to go back again. If you've not seen Starlight Express before, then it's worth while going, but if you're a fan of the original London production then it's probably not worth going to.