Starlight Express

A new show is pulling into the station at Wembley and it is an exceptional theatrical experience! 40 years after it first opened in London’s West End ‘Starlight Express’ is making its triumphant return to London in what can only be described as the best thing I have ever, or will ever see!

Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, this is a magical show which tells the story of a collection of trains and their race night. For any fans of the original production, you will be glad to hear this new revival has all the best bits with some new additions to bring the production bang up to date. In the first change, we meet ‘Control’ (Shaniyah Abrahams) who instead of the usual voiceover is brought to life as a young child who, when they go to bed, dream of racing trains. We enter a world where Steam, Diesel and Electric engines are all racing for the spot of number 1! This dream world is full of colour, bright lights and wonderful orchestrations which grab our attention from the get go.

We follow Rusty (Jeevan Braich), a young steam train who falls for new shiny carriage Pearl (Ashlyn Weekes). Rusty must prove himself to be the best engine against the newer more powerful engines. Unfortunately, Pearl’s head gets turned both by Greaseball (Al Knott) and Electra (Tom Pigram) and she has to decide who to couple up with, things go a little off the rails but it all gets back on track in the end!

The story here is not one that will change the world, it’s a fairly basic ‘Boy Train Meets Girl Train’ story, what's outstanding here is the execution. Director Luke Sheppard has worked well with choreographer Ashley Nottingham to create an incredible show in terms of performance and movement. For anyone not aware, Starlight Express is performed entirely on roller-skates, with actors at times reaching up to 30mph zooming around the purpose-built track inside the auditorium. Some of the sequences, especially the races are thrilling to watch as actors zoom past you while also singing full out. The only note I have would be if you’re sat in the front section be prepared to be turning your neck a lot as the actors whizz around you.

The design and creative teams have excelled with this show and it truly is something to behold. Costumes designed by Gabriella Slade are both modern with throwbacks to the originals. They are all bright, shiny and eye catching. In particular Electra’s entrance costume has a fun addition which took my breath away. All the costumes are cleverly designed and made using 3D printing techniques to allow the actors the most flexibility while also being breathtakingly gorgeous.

Every actor in this show is outstanding, they all work so well together to bring this piece together and with 14 professional debuts in the cast, it is an honour to see them all excelling in their field. I do have to mention a few in particular though for their extra special ‘Starlight’ factor; Jeevan Braich as Rusty is mesmerising, bringing a warm, young feel to the role and their voice is unmatched in the production. Their rendition of the title song ‘Starlight Express’ coupled with the phenomenal set and lighting design from Tim Hatley and Howard Hudson makes for a memory that will last a lifetime.

Al Knott as Greaseball really owns the stage and gives us fantastic vocals paired with brilliant villain energy making for a thoroughly enjoyable performance. Their performance of ‘Rolling Stock’ with the rest of the cast makes for a standout performance which will have the song stuck in your head for days after.

A special mention must also go to Eve Humphrey as Dinah (The Diner Car).  Eve brings a wonderful warm, funny quality to this character, they steal every scene they are in and their rendition of ‘U-N-C-O-U-P-L-E-D' brings lots of laughs along with admiration for their fantastic singing skills. In a wonderful change to the original production, we now have a beautiful queer love story between Dinah and Greaseball which is performed with grace and humility.

There are so many more incredible things I could say about this show, it truly is one of a kind and there is nothing else like it in the UK at the moment. I could not recommend this show more, it is a life changing experience. So, don’t let the wrong kind of leaves on the track delay you, get your skates on and grab a ticket now!

This show was reviewed on the 28th June 2024 at Troubador Wembley Park Theatre where it is booking through until February 2025.  Tickets available here: Starlight Express • London (

Review written by Rosie Browne


Photo credit: Pamela Raith

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