The Broadway production opened on 15 March 1987 at the Gershwin Theatre, where it ran for 761 performances, closing in January 1989. This version featured extensive revisions to the plot and the addition and omission of several musical numbers. [1]

Martin Starger and Lord Grade present - Starlight Express.

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by Richard Stilgoe.

Produced in association with MCA Music Entertainment Group, Stage Promotions (Four) / Strada Holdings, Weintraub Entertainment Group, inc.

Originally produced on the London stage by The Really Useful Theatre Company

Orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Musical Direction and Supervision by David Caddick.

Musical Director Paul Bogaev

Sound Designer Martin Levan

Lighting Designer David Hersey

Designer John Napier

Choreographer Arlene Phillips

Director Trevor Nunn


Starlight Express began previews on 24th February, performing 22 preview shows before formally opening on 15th March.

The Broadway set was more literal than the original London version, with scenes representing actual locations and city names scattered around.

Facts and Figures

120,000 pounds of steel, 7,000 sheets of plywood, 22 miles of fibre optics, 1,500 feet of flourescent tubing required to build the set.

Trivia: the Gershwin Theatre has been home to the long-running hit musical "Wicked", as has the Apollo Victoria theatre in London, home of the original production of Starlight Express.

Production Specifics

As the second production of Starlight Express, the creative team took the opportunity to make some drastic overhauls to the original production. The show had been running in London for almost three years, and the Broadway budget was much larger, which allowed them to learn from the experience of the original production and create a new show that was much bigger.

Plot, Music, Characters, Costume Design, Set Design, Choreography and skating skills were all changed for the new production.

"C.B." at this point lost his name and was henceforth known only as "Red Caboose," "Belle" became "Memphis Belle". A fourth Rocky was introduced, after the film "Rocky IV" had been released in 1985. Also the British train was re-named from "City of Milton Keynes" - a reference to the Advanced Passenger Train - to "Prince of Wales, the Royal Train", a far more universal concept.

The "Entry of National Engines" was moved to the beginning of the show, in the place of the overture. The song "Engine of Love" was used when Rusty brought the Coaches in near the beginning of the show. Pearl then went off with him before "A Lotta Locomotion", so that it was sung only by Dinah, Buffy and Ashley. "He Whistled at Me" was replaced with the more sedate ballad "Make Up My Heart." "AC/DC" no longer came to a conclusion, but was interrupted by Greaseball with "Pumping Iron", now a direct challenge to the newcomer. Because Electra had already entered with his entourage, the Second and Third class Sleepers no longer existed. Joule, Volta and Wrench now joined "Pumping Iron" in their places. "There's Me" became a duet between Caboose and Dinah.

The race structure changed from three heats with one winner each in the final, to two heats with two winners each in the final, and rather than racing simply for the accolade "Champion Engine of the World", the trains raced for a prize, the "Silver Dollar". Rusty didn't race in the heats at all, making Belle redundant. This made the show considerably shorter and less complex, as there was now one race fewer and no debate over whether or not Rusty should be allowed to race in the final. It also lead to Belle being entirely cut from the show in later productions, as she served no useful purpose.

"The Rap" was completely re-written to become "Hymn to Victory/Silver Dollar" as the original, mainly concerning Rusty's predicament, was irrelevant. For the "Downhill Final", Rusty appeared in a new costume as the Starlight Express. None of the other characters recognised him. After the race, Caboose stole the Silver Dollar. The company accuse Rusty of having stolen it, and he consents to being searched if the opposition have to do likewise. This led to a lengthy slapstick chase ("The Chase"), at the conclusion of which was Caboose crashing into Greaseball and Electra. "No Comeback" was cut. The disguised Rusty idea was scrapped during the Broadway run and reverted back to Rusty entering the Final as himself, and "The Chase" being cut completely. Greaseball, Caboose, & Electra then sang "One Rock 'n' Roll Too Many", rearranged with choreography that was more slapstick and less sexual innuendo laden. Pearl sang a brief reprise of "Make Up My Heart" ('It's thanks to you that things worked out all right. I knew it from the start. Now I know I've made up my heart.'), however it was cut early in the preview period. "Only He" was replaced with an expanded "Only You", and the show ended with "Light at the end of the Tunnel."

Although some of the costumes used in the Broadway production are notably different to the London costumes, not all characters were re-designed. Some, such as the National Engines, had proven such a technically demanding build for the 1984 budget that they had been compromised away from the original designs, however the 1987 production could afford to fully realise John Napier's designs. Many characters were completely re-designed however, with an overall bigger, squarer feel to the costumes - closer to the mechanical, and further from the human elements of the characters.

As well as changes to the designs, the Broadway production trialled a concept tying the show back in to its "Cinderella" roots. During the Starlight Sequence, The Starlight Express arrives to inspire Rusty. This scene parallels Cinderella's Fairy Godmother arriving and creating her magical coach, ballgown, glass slippers etc. After the Starlight Sequence, Rusty appeared in a new, non-rusty costume, and the other characters failed to recognise him, not even Control. Rusty even introduced himself as "The Starlight Express".

However, this concept was flawed in that the actor had at most three minutes backstage to complete a full costume change, between one of the biggest songs and the most athletic race number. Also the costume was not particularly distinctive in the fast-paced scenes, and while it had fine details the overall effect was not sufficient to justify the effort needed.


Concept Album available on MCA Compact Discs, HiQ Cassettes and Records.

A cast recording was not made of the Broadway transfer, instead a concept album was released, featuring many of the numbers that were significantly different from the London cast recording.

Reviews and Media Coverage

LA Times Interview January 1987 -with Barry K. Bernal

NY Times March 1987 - harsh critique, particularly to the changes from London.

LA Times March 1987 - Lacking Charm

Christian Science Monitor March 1987 - paid attention to the performance.


1987 Cast / 1988 replacements
Rusty Greg Mowry Pearl Reva Rice
Greaseball Robert Torti / John Schiappa Dinah Jane Krakowski
Poppa Steve Fowler Ashley Andrea McArdle / Stacia Goad
Electra Ken Ard Buffy Jamie Beth Chandler / Lola Knox
Rocky 1 Frank Mastrocola / Bryan Batt Krupp Joey McKneely / Roger Kachel
Rocky 2 Sean Grant Wrench Christina Youngman / Stacey Heinz
Rocky 3 Ronald Garza Purse Gordon Owens
Rocky 4 Angel Vargas Joule Nicole Picard / Kimberly Blake
Flat-top Todd Lester / Michael O'Steen Volta Mary Ann Lamb / Danielle Burgio
Dustin Michael Scott Gregory / Keith Allen
Caboose Barry K. Bernal / Todd Lester Belle Janet Williams Adderley
Bobo AC Ciulla / Brian Carmack Swing Michael-Demby Cain
Espresso Philip Clayton Swing Mark Frawley
Weltschaft Michael Berglund Swing Anthony Galde
Turnov William Christopher Frey / Ron DeVito Swing Lola Knox
Hashamoto D Michael Heath / Ken Rose Swing Christine Langner
Prince of Wales Sean McDermott Swing Ron Morgan
Poppa Cover Danny Strayhorn Swing Amelia Prentice
Swing Dwight Toppin Swing Broderick Wilson

Replacement Swings:

Dorie Herndon, Harold Yi, Roger Kachel, Marvin Engran, Terri Homberg, Dawn Marie Church, Marty Simpson, Janice Lorraine Holt, Jennifer Prescott

Booth Singers:

Melanie Vaughan, Paul Binotto, Lon Hoyt, Mary Windholtz

Control: Braden Danner

Mother: Melanie Vaughan




Press Reel - filmed early in dress rehearsals, 1987


Photo gallery

  1. Starlight Express