On 12 June 1988, the production opened at a specially built venue, the Starlighthalle in Bochum, Germany. It is currently the only permanent production of Starlight Express playing. It has been seen by more than 16 million people as of 2017.
The Bochum production, while a descendant of Broadway, reverted to the original London version of the show for many elements of the plot, including some of the later London changes. The Broadway four race structure remained, but in the interests of nationalism, Weltschaft (soon re-named Ruhrgold) the German engine was swapped with Bobo the French engine, so that he was in the final race. Belle was entirely removed, having been proved incompatible with the four-race structure on Broadway. The production opened with 4 Rockies, but soon reverted back to 3. Rocky IV can now be seen in the foyer, along with Weltschaft, cast in bronze. The production remained mostly unaltered artistically until after the London production closed.
The 1988 production featured the opening overture and skate round from London, but the running order bore more relation to Broadway. The Broadway song "Engine of Love", translated to "Liebesexpress", introduced Rusty and the Coaches rather than "Call Me Rusty". "Ne Lok mit Locomotion" ("A Lotta Locomotion") remains in the style of the Original London, with all four coaches singing. "Pumping Iron" comes after "AC/DC", as a direct challenge from the current champion to the newcomer. "Hilf Mir Verstehn" ("Make Up My Heart"), as Broadway, followed, with Pearl eventually opting for Electra.
In 2003, the late London song "Crazy" was put into the show between "Pumping Iron" and "Hilf Mir Verstehn" ("Make Up My Heart"), with "Liebesexpress" ("Engine of Love"), which fulfills much the same purpose, greatly shortened. At the same time "Allein im Licht der Sterne" ("Next Time You Fall In Love") replaced "Du Allein" ("Only You"). The Late London style "Megamix" was added to the end of the show, though the excerpts from the show's songs are not in the same order.
October 2006 saw the assimilation of the second US tour Hip Hoppers, replacing the Rockies. In 2007 the Rap was altered again, adding the beginning of the UK Tour version, and pyrotechnical effects can be seen when Electra enters and Greaseball skates at high speed.
In 2008, the "Overture" was replaced by "The Entry of the National Trains" (moved from prior to "AC/DC"). "Engine of Love" was cut completely, with the melody recycled for Pearl's ballad "Dann pfeift er mir zu" ("He'll Whistle at Me"), in a new German translation. To replace "Engine of Love", the shortened version of "Call Me Rusty" ("Nennt mich rostig") was introduced. Caboose's duet with Dinah "There's Me" was cut. The title song was reworked to "When your good-nights have been said" version, as later London. "The Rap" was now the "It's Race Time" version. The final duet between Rusty and Pearl was re-worked to the UK tour version of "Only He" ("Nur mit Ihm").
In 2013 the love-song was replaced yet again, this time with the German translation of "I Do" ("Für Immer"), and "Whole Lotta Locomotion" ("Nie Genug") added. Other songs, like "G.E.K.U.P.P.E.L.T." ("U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D.") were re-translated, as well as the show being re-choreographed and the lighting, sound and orchestrations updated.
The 30th anniversary saw the show given major revisions, similar in scale to the 1992 "New Starlight Express" in London. The re-worked material strongly resembled the 2017 Workshop, with the attempt to re-focus the story to redress the gender imbalance. To this end, a female character was added to each "set" of characters - Poppa became Mama in the principal Engines; in Freight, the Rockies made a surprising comeback, with Rocky 3 became female; the National Engines saw the french engine become Coco. Multiple other character changes were included: Ashley and Buffy replaced by Belle the Bar Car and Carrie the Luggage van; Hip Hoppers reverted to Rockies; as well as Coco, the Nationals saw the Japanese engine re-branded Manga; the Components lost Purse the Money Truck, Volta became male, and the set saw the addition of Killerwatt the Security Truck. While Killerwatt closely resembles Krupp (cut a year previously), he also performs Purse's role of Electra's messenger.
Musically the show has been considerably re-written, particularly in the first quarter. One of the most controversial and unpopular elements of the Workshop was included - Control breaks into the Overture crying "Stop that boring music!" to introduce the National trains. The Overture consists of the same musical arrangement as the introduction to the "Starlight Sequence", and as such is one of the key musical themes in the show; to have Control dismiss this beautiful music as "boring" is jarring and alienating. "Crazy" is now Rusty's introduction, and the story-telling concerning Pearl and Rusty's relationship has been tightened. The Coaches have a new song, "I Got Me", which is a girl-power anthem developed from a theme taken from "Rolling Stock". Certain elements of the previous version of the show continue, such as the love-song "I Do".
The theatre has had a significant technical upgrade, with new sound, lighting and projection mapping technology installed. The projections required the set to be re-painted a neutral black/grey rather than its previous multicoloured look. The foyer has also been re-decorated, and has had the Train Station theme, installed in 1998, removed in favour of a generic, contemporary look.
John Napier has supervised significant costume re-designs. Besides new costumes for the new characters Belle, Carrie and Killerwatt, Electra has also had a notable change in that he is no longer red and blue, but nearly entirely black and silver on the original silhouette. Caboose has had a major re-design, rather than the more literal toy red Caboose, he now has "Gangsta/ Mobster" elements, including a trilby hat, and a predominantly navy colour palette. All the makeup designs have been made much softer, with minimal use of the iconic vivid colours and strong geometric shapes.
The Starlighthalle was built especially for the production in an extraordinary time of less than one year. Both the special building and record breaking build time were documented in the Guinness Book of Records. The Starlighthalle was specially designed for the show, with large tracks on two levels in a U-like shape with the audience sitting in the middle and around these tracks. On stage the tracks even run over three levels which allows several race combinations. In 2003 a 'Y' shaped track was added to the smallest inner track, the Parkett, dividing it into 3 seating areas and allowing greater flexibility of staging and more tricks for the skaters. A good impression of the Starlighthalle can be seen on the Official Website from a 360° panorama view and lots of high resolution pictures from the show, featuring the current cast.
In 1998, for the show's 10th anniversary, the foyer was given a "Train Station" make-over, with industrial style detailing, murals on the ceiling, statues of Weltschaft and Rocky 4 mounted on the central bar. The most distinctive element was a large cast board, with station-style scrolling letters to spell out messages as well as name the cast for that performance.
In 2018, again the foyer was redesigned, this time removing the 20-year old themed concept, and creating a slick, modern environment. The large sky-light was filled with a star field, and the industrial theming replaced with understated furnishings and a bright red carpet.
In March 2008, Starlight Express ran a talent competition with German Television to find the next Rusty and Pearl. The show started on 31 March and was called 'Musical Showstar 2008'. The competition was won by Kevin Köhler and Anna-Maria Schmidt. Schmidt dropped out of training, but Köhler premiered as Rusty on 1 August 2008.
The show advertises as "Das rasanteste Musical im Universum!" ("The fastest musical in the universe!")
Children's Workshop Days - 2010 onwards
Public Promotion appearances - 2014
The Stage - May 2016
One Night Only - English performance The Guardian, April 2017
Further Cast Information
Current Cast 2018
|Rusty||Blake P Anderson||Pearl||Georgina Hagen|
|Greaseball||Ben Carruthers||Dinah||Rose Ouellette|
|Mama||Reva Rice||Belle||Rochelle Sherona|
|Electra||Sjoerd van der Meer||Carrie||Veronika Hammer|
|Rocky 1||Dewayne Adams||Coco||Clare Maynard|
|Rocky 2||Garry Kessing||Espresso||Anthony Hughes|
|Rocky 3||Lucy Glover||Ruhrgold||Will Luckett|
|Flat-top||Darius James||Turnov||Luke Dowling|
|Dustin||Daniel Holley||Manga||Gary Sheridan|
|Caboose||Daniel Ellison||Brexit||Anthony Cragg|
|Killerwatt||Huon Mackley||Trax||Joey Egan|
|Wrench||Aisha Numah||Trax||Etienne Vogel|
|Joule||Amy Barker||Trax||Jeremy Suarez Jimenez|
|Swing||Gemma Archer||Swing||Bianca Atalaya|
|Swing||Lacy Jordinson||Swing||Danielle Lockwood|
|Swing||Carla Pullen||Swing||Sian Jones|
|Swing||David Brown||Swing||Daniel Joey|
|Swing||Marc McFayden||Swing||Andrew Millar|
|Swing||Tom Nihill||Swing||George Olney|
|Swing||Stuart Rouse||Swing||Paul Shipp|
1988 Running Order
|Act One||Act Two|
|Ouverture - full overture, Nationals and Gang||Parade|
|Liebesexpress (Taunting Rusty)||G.E.K.U.P.P.E.L.T.|
|Endlich kommt||Girls Rolling Stock (Dinah Es Ehrt Dich- Intro Mein Spiel)|
|Pearl, das kann nicht wahr sein||Mein Spiel|
|'Ne Lok mit Locomotion||Das 3. Rennen (Das War Betrug)|
|Fracht ist Macht (Entry of Nationals)||Nicht der rechte Zeitpunkt, nicht der rechte Ort (Rusty Alone)|
|Pumping Iron||Rusty und Dustin|
|Fracht Reprise/Coda Freight (Hitching and Switching)||Dinahs Trennung/Dinah's Disco (Pre-race 4)|
|Pearl, welche Ehre||Das 4. Rennen|
|Hilf mir verstehn||Ein Rock'n'Roll zuviel (After Rock 'n Roll)|
|Das 1. Rennen||Du Allein (Gluckwunsch Rusty)|
|Das war unfair||Ein Licht ganz am Ende des Tunnels|
|Dein Freund/Ganz Allein|
|Papas Blues (After Blues)|
|Das 2. Rennen|
2017 Running Order
|Act One||Act Two|
|Overture / Skate Round||The Rap "What Time Is It?"|
|Nennt mich rostig||Girls Rolling Stock|
|Pearl, das kann nicht wahr sein||Mein Spiel|
|Nie genug||Das 3. Rennen|
|Dann pfeift er mir zu||Nicht der rechte Zeitpunkt|
|Entry of Nationals||Rusty und Dustin|
|Pumping Iron||Das 4. Rennen|
|Fracht Reprise||Ein Rock'n'Roll zu viel|
|Hilf mir versteh'n||Ein Licht ganz am Ende des Tunnels|
|Das 1. Rennen||Für immer (Reprise)|
|Das 2. Rennen|