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CB (Red Caboose) is the brake van from the musical Starlight Express. He's a crowd favourite but was removed from the New London and On Ice productions. He is one of the most intriguing and unpredictable characters in the show. Since he is the Caboose, it's his function to help the other trains with their work. Later on, we see another side of him when decides to sabotage Rusty in the race. In the end, when he is racing with Electra, he gets fought over by Electra and Greaseball, and ends up crashing them all.

Personality

CB was (in London) and is (in Bochum) one of the more prominent characters. He was the main antagonist and linchpin of the plot, manipulating champion contenders Greaseball and Electra.

CB's personality is one of the most complex in the show. Initially he seems bright, sweet and helpful; we don't see a darker side to him until the first race, but immediately that is contrasted to his sweetness towards Dinah in "There's Me". It's only in the second act that we see CB completely off the rails.

Many people theorise that Caboose is in love with Dinah, and that is why he wants to crash Greaseball (who Dinah loves) and Electra allows him access to the race. This is also often thought to be his motive behind singing "There's Me". Alternatively, he is a first class manipulator and preying on Dinah's weakness. Perhaps he genuinely feels sorry for her and is sincerely offering friendship. There is also the theory that he is simply insane with no real logic behind his motives or actions.

It's clear that he's not like the other freight trucks - while they carry goods, CB is almost an engine himself, having brakes and a small motor, and being the train crew's break room, he's almost a passenger car as well. Hard to define and caught between the clearly drawn categories on the train line, CB is unique and an outsider.

The puns flow thick and fast with CB, particularly with the homonyms of "Brake" and "Break". Is CB intending to slow down his race partner, or damage him? The audience can't tell. In the original production he was named C.B., a reference to CB radios (this is also one of Richard Stilgoe's many beloved puns, as it is also an abbreviation of 'Caboose'). There is a scene in the Original London production, where Greaseball enters and says, 'Hi C.B.' and C.B. answers 'Hi G.B.', supporting the abbreviation train of thought. Several examples of CB radio code pepper his lines, including 'ten-seven', which means a dead body (said when he's mocking Rusty after holding him back in the Uphill Final), and 'smokey bear', which refers to a sheriff.

From Broadway onwards, however, he dropped all references to CB radios and was known only as 'The Red Caboose'. In Expreso Astral, the 1997 Mexican production, Red Caboose was literally translated to 'Cabus Rojo'. He was not in "Starlight Express on Ice" which was based on the later London production.

Role

We first meet CB the Red Caboose in Freight, where he's pulling up the back of the freight train. He's unlike the other Freight, he's smaller, he doesn't carry goods, he's just there to help. Sometimes he can be seen smiling and waving to his friend Dinah. He keeps well back when the Engine of the Future, Electra appears, and CB can't resist his magnetism any more than anyone else can. Originally, CB raced with Hashamoto in the first race, against Greaseball and Dinah, and Espresso and Buffy. But CB helps Greaseball take the lead, by slowing down the Bullet Train at the crucial moment.

After Greaseball and Dinah have confirmed their place in the final, Dinah twigs that the race was not completely honestly won. She complains, and Greaseball pushes her away, she falls, crying. CB catches up with them, and as Greaseball tells him Dinah is on her own, CB sings "There's Me" to comfort her. She's not alone, she has a friend. What his motivation is is unclear - is he in love with her, when she has eyes for no-one but Greaseball? Is he genuinely wanting to comfort his friend? Is he in fact playing a manipulative game, and working on controlling Greaseball's girlfriend?

After the big drama of Poppa winning a spot in the final and nominating Rusty to take his place, CB joins the argument on Rusty's side, volunteering to race with him. But in an aside to Greaseball he says "Trust me, I'll sort it out! (Tell ya later what it's all about!)" Soon after we catch up with CB chatting on his radio, as Greaseball finds him. Greaseball asks who he's talking to, and doesn't like that it's Electra. He threatens CB, "Just remember whose side you're on!". After Greaseball and his gang leave, Electra turns up to talk to CB. CB tells him his plan to wipe out Rusty, and reveals his sordid past in "Wide Smile, High Style"

The Uphill Final sets off, with all three engines - Rusty, Electra, and Greaseball - all sure that CB is working for themselves. Rusty quickly learns the truth, as CB throws on the brakes, and Rusty is slowed down to the point that he misses the crucial stage of the race where the bridge ferries the racers up to the top level. Rusty's disqualified. But the race ends in a dead heat, so Greaseball and Electra will have to repeat the head-to-head final.

Rusty complains that CB cheated, but nobody listens to him. But Pearl realises that Rusty was cheated, and when she goes to complain she's bullied into staying. CB gloats, teasing the disheartened steam engine, "Call yourself an engine? You're no Engine!" as he leaves, finding the damage wrought hilarious.

Later, as the engines prepare for the re-run of the Final, Dinah has reached the end of her patience with Electra, and disconnects him. In a panic, Electra calls for his ally, CB, to race with him instead. As they assemble for the re-run, Rusty turns up with Dustin and pushes into the race. The race is violent and dirty, with Electra shooting lightning and Pearl getting derailed. Electra and Greaseball fight over CB, and he causes an enormous crash right before the finish line, resulting in Rusty and Dustin to win the race. Humiliated by losing, Electra storms out, but in even worse shape is the mangled wreckage of Greaseball and CB, who've gone through "One Rock'n'Roll Too Many" CB has learned the lesson from his devious behaviour.

Revisions

Broadway

For the Broadway and later productions, CB becomes Caboose, and several plot points are smoothed out from the original version, In Heat 1, Caboose usually races with Turnov, prompting mid-80s political discussion of the treacherous RED Caboose racing with the Russian engine. "There's Me" becomes a duet with Dinah taking a verse. His introduction for "Wide Smile, High Style" becomes snappier and clearer, as he tells Greaseball he'll wipe out Rusty, and Electra that he'll wipe out Greaseball. He also is clearly less sane,

Every hero that you trust, in the end they all go bust!
Robin Hood kept all the money, Piglet poisoned Pooh-bear's honey!
E.T. had no flying permit, Donald Duck has eaten Kermit!
Bambi set the woods alight! And the Red Caboose is not Snow White!'

The Uphill Final staging was also changed, rather than the racers needing to be on the bridge before it moved and the race ending in a dead heat, instead the race devolves into a punch-up, and when Rusty and Caboose pull out into the lead, Greaseball tells Caboose to Brake/Break him. Caboose sends Rusty crashing down the set, to land, injured and unable to continue, and Control cancels the race.

Another change was in cutting Electra's tantrum song "No Comeback", which added Electra to the crash at the end of the Race, making "One Rock'n'Roll Too Many" into a trio rather than a duet.

London

The London production updated around 1988 to bring the show in line with some elements of the Broadway production, including the re-written elements of Caboose's role, and cutting "No Comeback". In late 1992, "The New Starlight Express" cut the role of CB as well as Belle. The 1997 "Starlight Express On Ice" production modelled itself on this production, and ran without CB.

US/UK Tours

The role of Caboose was significantly cut down for the 2003 US Tour, and subsequent UK Tour. The entire scene after Heat 1 was cut, including his solo "There's Me", and his other solo "Wide Smile, High Style" was reduced to simply the dialogue. This meant that the role was small enough to be considered ensemble not a featured role, and lowered the actor's pay grade appropriately.

Germany

In 2008, the German production followed the example of the UK Tour, and cut down his role significantly. However they did later partially reverse the decision, and re-instated a shortened version of "Wide Smile", where Caboose initially talks to Greaseball and Gang, telling them of his plan to wipe out Rusty. Greaseball threatens him and leaves. Caboose begins to soliloquise, but shortly after, Electra and his Components arrive and dance with him without knowing his plans. The crucial bars where Electra learns of Caboose's plans, which explain his presence, have been cut.


Appearance

Costume design

Gallery

Photo gallery

Cast

London

1984 - 1986 Michael Staniforth
1986 - 1987 Paul Reeves
1987 - 1988 Robin Wright
1988 - 1989 Peter Rees
1989 - 1990 Eddie Kemp
1990 - 1992 William Adams
1992 - 2002 (cut)

Broadway

1987 - 1988 Barry K. Bernal
1988 - 1989 Todd Lester

Japan / Australia Tours

1987 Peter Rees
1990 Hans Johansson

Bochum, Germany

1988 - 1989 Hans Johansson
1989 - 1990 Roderick Cloud / Kapa Kitchen
1990 - 1991 T. Robert Pigott
1991 - 1992 Kapa Kitchen
1992 - 1994 Thierry Gondet
1994 - 1996 Steven M Schultz
1996 - 1999 Kapa Kitchen
1999 - 2000 Murray Golding
2000 - 2001 Rob Fowler
2001 - 2002 Oliver Rhoe Thornton
2002 - 2004 Anthony Kirwan
2004 - 2006 Kapa Kitchen
2006 - 2007 Craig Perry
2007 - 2008 Nivaldo Allvez
2008 - 2010 Ben Draper
2010 - 2011 Marcel Brauneis
2011 - 2013 Gordon Gesatzki
2013 - 2016 Andrew Prosser
2016 - 2018 Daniel Ellison

US Tour 1989 - 1991

1989 - 1991 Todd Lester

Las Vegas 1993 - 1997

1993 - 1994 T. Robert Pigott
1994 - 1995 Chris Castillo
1995 - 1996  ?
1996 - 1997 Ken Romero

US Tour 2003 - 2004

2003 - 2004 Jeremy Kocal

UK Tours 2004 - 2008

2004 - 2005 Grant Murphy
2006 - 2007 Stuart Armfield
2007 - 2008 Cameron Neilson

NZ Tour 2009

2009 Duane McGregor

UK Tour 2012-2013

2012 - 2013 Stuart Armfield
Asia 2013 Austin Garrett

Trivia

The logos featured on Caboose's costume are rail organizations no longer operating (known as "fallen flags" in the railroad community). Companies include Pennsylvania Railroad, Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Chessie System, Northern Pacific Railway, Great Northern Railway, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Penn Central Transportation Company, and Canadian Pacific Railway, which is the only one still in use.

On April 1st 2015 Starlight Express Bochum announced via twitter, that Caboose's costume would be changed from red to green, to match his character better - this was very quickly found out to be an April Fools' prank.

In the original version of "C.B."/"Wide Smile, High Style", C.B. mentions, "State police, they don't suspect I got Old 97 wrecked." This is a reference to the Wreck of Old 97. In 1903 an American mail train had been speeding along and could not brake in time and crashed. However, mail trains were a type of passenger service and would not have had a caboose.

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