Features

Starlight Express reveals huge London venue – and new number for revival

Take a look inside the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre as the show gears up for a London return

The auditorium, © Jamie Taylor
The auditorium, © Jamie Taylor

Starlight Express will grind back into gear this evening as it returns to the London stage – and the show has revealed some exciting new details.

Speaking to The Telegraph about the production, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber revealed that he and lyricist Joe Stilgoe had penned a new number, “Hydrogen”, which is all about the future: “I thought we can’t be ­saying that dirty [coal-powered] old steam trains are wonderful. There has been a lot of investment in hydrogen energy, and it occurred to me that instead of being nostalgic, we could have a show which suggests steam [courtesy of hydrogen] is the future.”

Other innovations include fresh orchestrations by Matt Brind. Arlene Phillips, who choreographed the original version of the show, returns as a “creative dramaturg”, while choreography is by Ashley Nottingham (Pacific Overtures, Top Hat). Director Luke Sheppard has also added some interesting twists, with the character of “Control” being played by a child on stage – rather than a disembodied voice as in historic versions.

Additional new takes include an augmented sound and lighting design, aided by GPS-style microchips that map where the performers are in the auditorium and adjust levels to match their locations.

The auditorium, © Jamie Taylor
The auditorium, © Jamie Taylor

The show has now revealed its set design, including a major ramp at the back of the stage where skaters will ascend and descend, backwards and forwards. Skaters will duck and weave between banks of audience seating, with additional “pyrotechnics, flashing and strobe lighting effects, haze, simulated sparks, flame and smoke effects, and some loud sound effects”, according to the production.

Lloyd Webber’s musical, about a child’s train set that comes to life and competes to become the fastest engine in the world, will introduce Jeevan Braich as Rusty, Kayna Montecillo as Pearl, Jade Marvin as Momma McCoy, Al Knott as Greaseball, Eve Humphrey as Dinah and Tom Pigram as Electra.

The cast also includes Ollie Augustin, Charles Butcher, Renz Cardenas, Catherine Cornwall, Jamie Cruttenden, Kelly Downing, Asher Forth, Sam Gallacher, Lucy Glover, Pablo Gómez Jones, Scott Hayward, Lilianna Hendy, Lewis Kidd, Hannah Kiss, Oscar Kong, Emily Martinez, Deearna Mclean, Marianthe Panas, David Peter-Brown, RED, Bethany Rose Lythgoe, Ashley Rowe, Gary Sheridan, Elly Shaw, Jessica Vaux, Jaydon Vijn, Lara Vina Uzcatia, Sharon Wattis and Ashlyn Weekes.

Tim Hatley is designing the sets, with Gabriella Slade on costume design and Phillips part of the creative team, alongside video designer Andrzej Goulding, lighting designer Howard Hudson and sound designer Gareth Owen, with new orchestrations and musical supervision by Matthew Brind. It has new choreography by Ashley Nottinghammusical supervision by Brind and David Wilson, musical direction by Laura Bangay and casting by Pearson Casting.

Expect more photos, features and more for the show over the coming week and month ahead of opening night!

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