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The 2009 New Zealand tour was essentially an extension of the UK Tour, in sets, costumes and direction. The cast was a mixture of seasoned Starlight actors and young local talent. Sadly the production only ran to three venues during July and August 2009.

Credits

By arrangement with the Really Useful Group Ltd.

Stewart & Tricia Macpherson with Patrick Connell and ANZ present Starlight Express.

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by Richard Stilgoe

Orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber

Additional lyrics by David Yazbek

Designed by John Napier

Musical Supervision by Phil Edwards

Lighting Designer Howard Eaton

Sound Designer Paul Jeffrey

Musical Director Michael Nicholas Williams

Film Directed by Julian Napier

Skating Consultant Michal Fraley

Associate Director/Choreographer Mykal Rand

Assistant Choreographer Lee Lomas

Original London and Broadway Productions Directed by Trevor Nunn

Direction and Choreography by Arlene Phillips

Venues

  • Wellington : 1–7 July 2009, TSB Bank Arena
  • Christchurch: 11–19 July 2009, Westpac Arena
  • Auckland: 25 July – 22 August 2009, Vector Arena

Reviews

theatreview.org.nz report, production credits.

Stuff.co.nz review, July 2009

Stage Whispers.co.au report, July 2009

Press Release

Stewart and Tricia Macpherson with Patrick Connell by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Ltd are thrilled to announce Andrew Lloyd Webber’s - STARLIGHT EXPRESS - one of the most successful musicals of all time, will tour New Zealand next year, for the first time!

The large arena-scaled show will play indoors at Vector, TSB and Westpac Arenas during July and August 2009! Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 28 October, 2008. Please see dates and booking details below or visit www.starlightexpressnz.com

Since opening at the Apollo Victoria in London on 27 March 1984, it has been produced in Germany, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Mexico, as well as a production on ice in 1997. When the show closed at the Apollo, London on the 12th January 2002, after a run of 18 years and 7409 performances STARLIGHT EXPRESS is second only to CATS as the longest running musical in British theatre history.

“We are very excited to bring to New Zealand audiences this new version for today’s audiences,” said Stewart Macpherson, “the show has additional new songs; new orchestrations with a very ‘now’ sound even some with an injection of hip-hop. Large Arenas provide huge scope for the spectacle of the show which will include specialist stunt-skaters performing extreme sports elements and a dynamic cast of 28 performers plus an orchestra. Some seating in the arena will place the audience in the thick of the skating action.”

Synopsis

A nine year old boy playing with his model train set is sent to bed by his mother. As he sleeps, his imagination takes over and the adventure begins... (OVERTURE).

A Race is announced and the contenders include entries from all around the globe (ENTRY OF THE NATIONAL TRAINS). Representing France is Bobo, the power of the Sudest - he has arrogance but some flair. Turnov hails from Mother Russia and Italy has sent Espresso, who is dark and passionate and powers the Rome-to-Milan Express. Ruhrgold is the bold and stoic German engine, power of the Inter-Continental Express, while the ingenious and aggressive Nintendo, who powers the Shinkansen Bullet Train, represents the Japanese. Often late by still beloved, The Prince of Wales powers the Royal train and represents Great Britain. The favourite is a diesel train named Greaseball from the USA: he is the hot, flashy power of the Union Pacific. A classi rocker in the vein of Elvis Presley (ROLLING STOCK), Greaseball is attached to the carriage Dinah, but he treats her badly whenever he thinks he has found someone new and better.

One train with the odds against him is Rusty, a small, shy and naíve, but optimistic, steam engine who works in the freight yard (CALL ME RUSTY). He is convinced that he can compete in the world championship, much to the amusement of his friends, the carriages. Each engine must be teamed with a carriage for the race (A WHOLE LOTTA LOCOMOTION). Some of the finely onstructed carriages include Ashley, the sassy smoking car who huffs and puffs around the traks, enjoys hanging out with her girlfriends and offering advice; Buffy, a sweet and simple Buffet car who offers something for everyone; Dinah, a Dining Car whose blue plate special is love on the rocks, and Pearl, an Observation Car, who is the object of Rusty's affection but can't decide whether to commit to him. Rusty has convinced her to ride with him but the other carriages try to get her to change her mind, as he has no chance of winning. Pearl sings to the other girls of her dream of love (HE'LL WHISTLE AT ME). Spoiling the moment, Rusty arrives with his buddies: Hip Hoppers I, II and III (the Box Cars) and Flat-Top, who know that (FREIGHT IS GREAT).

Rusty's chances of winning the race look even slimmer after the appearance of Electra, a brand new state-of-the-art electric engine. Looking like an androgynous rock star, Electra is truly an (AC/DC) character accompanied by his wild entourage. They include Wrench the Repair Truck, Joule the Dynamite Truck, Volta the Refrigerator Car and Purse the Money Truck. Greaseball arrives to steal Electra's thunder, and celebrates his strength and power in (PUMPING IRON).

The race will consist of two heats, and the top two finishers in each one will fo on to the final. Rusty asks Pearl to race with him (CRAZY), but she is tempted away by Electra (MAKE UP MY HEART). Rusty doesn't have a partner, and therefore cannot race in the first heat. Greaseball, racing with Dinah, and Electra with Pearl, make it through to the final.

Rusty visits his father rfigure, Poppa, for advice (POPPA'S BLUES). Poppa tells him to use one of the freight trucks as a partner, but Rusty only wants to race with Pearl. Poppa tries to convince him that the power of the Starlight Express will help him but Rusty is adamant. Frustrated and angry, Poppa enters the second heat in his place, with Dustin, a very heavy freight truck, and wins! The race wears him out though, so he asks Rusty to take his place in the final (LAUGHING STOCK). Rusty still refuses, until his humiliation by Greaseball, Electra and Pearl combine to make Rusty lose his temper. He challenges them both to race him in the final. They mock him with derisive laughter. Rusty is left wonderng whether he is good enough to take part, searching for guidance from the mysical (STARLIGHT EXPRESS).

The odds for who wil be the ultimate winner are discussed (THE RAP). Greaseball asks Pearl to be his partner for the final, leaving Dinah without an engine (U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D.) She teams up with Electra instead, and Rusty races with the Red Caboose who has been secretly plotting with Greaseball to ruin Rusty's chances. The race is forfeited, however, when Electra, Greaseball and Caboose conspire to cause a crash. Greaseball insists it was Rusty's fault and tries to intimidate him into not racing in the re-match. The Hip-Hoppers find Rusty alone, and try to convinde him that he, like them, will never compete because they are Freight Cars and from "the wrong side of the tracks" (RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME).

Rusty finds inspiration by discovering that the Starlight Express really does exist, and vows to make it to the end (I AM THE STARLIGHT/STARLIGHT SEQUENCE). He will race with Dustin, the Freight truck. Meanwhile, Dinah is disappointed with Electra and disconnects him, so he calls the Red Caboose to race with him in her place. During the race Pearl is distracted by Rusty, which makes Greaseball so angry he disengages from her, and she nearly jumps the tracks. Rusty is able to save her. Greaseball, Electra and Red Caboose crash (ONE ROCK'N'ROLL TOO MANY), and Rusty wins the race, but he is more concerned with finding Pearl, who has finally realised that she loves Rusty (ONLY HE). It's a happy ending for them both, as well as for the reconciled Dinah and Greaseball.

Poppa convinces Electra and Greaseball that they can be converted to steam and calls the whole company to join him in a rousing gospel number (LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL).

(quoted from the 2009 NZ tour programme)

Videos

Starlight Express skating toward NZ debut

Starlight Express skating toward NZ debut

full

Starlight Express - New Zealand Tour '09 - Behind the Scenes

Starlight Express - New Zealand Tour '09 - Behind the Scenes

full

Cast and Crew

Resident Director - Mykal Rand

Skate Coach - Andrew Millar

Dance Captain - Lee Lomas

2009 Cast
Rusty Jamie Golding Pearl Rebecca Wright
Poppa Lothair Eaton Dinah Torum Heng
Greaseball Matthew Cutts Ashley Sarah Landy
Electra Mykal Rand Buffy Camilla Hardy
Hip Hopper 1 Aaron Piper Caboose Duane McGregor
Hip Hopper 2 Sharn Te Pou Wrench Hannah Kee
Hip Hopper 3 Joel Hewlett Volta Liv Wakem
Flat-top Jared Pallesen Purse Ben Nichols
Dustin Gavin Ashbarry Joule Melanie Firbank
Ruhrgold Jos Hoetjes Swing Claire Stanley
Turnov Olaf John Swing Georgia Bergerson
Nintendo Clayton Curnow Swing Lee Lomas
Prince of Wales Robert Enari Swing Andrew Millar
Alternate Electra Matthew Pike Swing Graham Harvey
Trax Matt King Trax Leo Terris

Gallery