Despite an 18-year run on the West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s roller skating musical Starlight Express has never gained the same reputation as some of his other smashes. When you see it, you’ll realise that is undeserved.
I went with a slightly biased viewpoint, as a roller derby skater I could not wait to see how the performers would translate A-grade choreographer by Arlene Phillips onto eight wheels.
But after a while you begin to forget about the skates and view the performance as you would any other. And I wasn’t disappointed.
These are not roller skaters pushed onto the stage – but West End superstars who learnt the skill from scratch for the show. Which is probably why when one of the skaters lost a wheel mid-song I was completely oblivious – too wrapped up in the fantastic performances.
Where Starlight Express falls down is the plot. Basically there isn’t very much to it. Trains having a race, interspersed with the traditional Lloyd Webber underdog-championing-while-winning-the-girl sub-plot.
But if you let yourself get swept away by the magic of Starlight Express, that doesn’t matter.
There were some stand-out performances, particularly by Mykal Rand as Electra, whose spins and jumps had Torvill and Dean-like qualities, and Ruthie Stephens’ Dinah, who added comedy and spark.
Perhaps Starlight Express isn’t ideally suited to your most highbrow theatre goer, but if you want a night of escapist fun, it won’t let you down.