One of the longest-running and most unique musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express opened on 13 Nov 2013 at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. Thanks to my friend Janice, I had the opportunity to attend the special media event as well as the evening’s show.
The musical tells the story of a toy trains, portrayed by 28 actors on roller skates, coming to life inside the mind of a young boy in his dream. The characters race to be the fastest engine in the world, while competing for the affections of the glamorous coaches which they must team up with.
Actor Kristoffer Harding who plays “Rusty” in the musical likens Starlight Express story to that of Cinderella “spun on its head”, with Rusty being Cinderella, Electra and Greaseball being the wicked stepsisters, Poppa as the fairy godmother and Pearl as the prince charming.
The music side of things covers several genres from blues to pop, rock, soul and hip-hop, and each character is described by it’s own genre. For example, the old steam trains sing rock and roll/blues, the electric trains sing modern electro-pop, and Rusty and Pearl sings a love ballad for each other.
The original production involved tracks which let the performers race around the audience. However, this would be impractical for tours such as this. So the production here utilised modern 3D video technology to show the race scenes as a 3D video.
Another interesting thing I found out during the event is that the actors mostly did not know how to skate before joining the company. They were trained for 2-3 months at a skate school after they were selected after the auditions.
During the media event, the company performed 3 scenes from the musical – AC/DC, Starlight Express and Right Place, Right Time. This was the only time that I got to shoot the performance as photography during the actual performance is disallowed. However, I soon discovered that I can’t really enjoy it if I have to keep watching it through the viewfinder. This being a large scale production involving actors skating around, there are lots of things going on and it’s hard to follow what’s going on through a view finder. I am glad I got to watch the entire musical in the evening without shooting.
The musical was enjoyable to watch, and the lighting design was fantastic. It’s also unusual to see a musical where everyone is skating around, this was really unique not only during its time, but even now. The only complaint I had was that the sound mixing was less than optimal. In the louder musical numbers, the music often drowned out the actors’ singing, making it hard to follow the lyrics.
Starlight Express will be performed at the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands until 24 Nov 2013. Yes, it’s a rather short run, so do catch it now. You can get tickets from www.marinabaysands.com/ticketing or sistic.com.sg.
Many thanks to Janice as well as Amanda Osborne from Base Entertainment for the opportunity to attend the press event and the actual performance.
For more Starlight Express photos, you can visit my Flickr set.