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Dustin the Big Hopper is part of the Freight train in Starlight Express. He plays a large role in supporting his friends, Poppa and Rusty, the Steam Engines.

Personality

He is a gentle, kind-hearted soul who is very shy and very sensitive, especially about his weight. He shuns attention, during Freight, when Control introduces him, he had to be called twice as he was too shy to come forward.

His best friends are Flat-Top and Rusty. Dustin is also close with the rest of the freight yard residents, like the Rockies (or now Hip-Hoppers) and Poppa.

He is also eager to be a racing partner, shown by his enthusiasm to race with Poppa in the third heat of the original London production, as well as the Downhill Final with Rusty.

Role

We first meet Dustin in Freight, as Rusty shunts the Freight train into place. He's happily minding his own business, laughing as Flat-Top entertains, when Control calls on him to introduce himself. He is too shy, and only steps forward when Control repeats himself and Flat-top encourages him to do so. But with Flat-Top's support, he's proud of his job in the freight train.

Dustin is awed by the appearance of Electra's Components, commenting "Electra must be rich to have his own repair truck!" Flat-Top replies less respectfully "Or unreliable!" Dustin keeps out of the Components' way after Purse answers them that "Electra IS rich, switch your allegiance to Electra!" But he's on more familiar territory as Greaseball sings Pumping Iron, he and Flat-Top watch the girls all dancing with the Diesel.

As we change scene to the freight yard after Race One, we see Dustin in the freight yard along with Poppa, Rockies and Flat-Top. Poppa sings The Blues with Dustin sitting at his feet, joining in on his mouth organ. Dustin loves the music so much he gets totally carried away, and doesn't hear Poppa calling him, until Poppa knocks him over the head so he can finish the song! Dustin volunteers to race with Poppa - but he's so big and heavy, it's a ridiculous proposition. Anyway, there isn't a free space in the race. But then Control announces that the British train has been scrapped - space for a late entry! Poppa takes this as divine intervention, and it's meant to be. Poppa and Dustin leave for the Race.

Poppa and Dustin look a ridiculous pair next to the sleek Nationals and their nimble partners, but like the Hare and the Tortoise, the National engines underestimate the old Steam engine and his heavy partner, and while they're busy fighting, Poppa takes the lead! And while Dustin's weight makes him hard to pull uphill, the final stretch is downhill, and they win the race. But after passing the finish line, Poppa collapses, worn out by the exertion. Poor Dustin is mortified, full of guilt and worry for the old Steamer, and the Rockies blame him for encouraging Poppa. In the big argument that follows (The Rap), Dustin sticks with Poppa who's recovered enough to argue that Rusty should stay in the race.

After all the exertion and stress, Dustin finds himself a quiet corner to take a nap, but he has the strangest dream about the Starlight Express, talking to Rusty. He's woken by Rusty calling to people - and it wasn't a dream! Dustin has absolute faith in Rusty, and agrees to go with him, wherever they might be going...

The Final race had to be re-run after the massive crash, and this time, it's being raced on the Downhill course. Rusty and Dustin crash the pre-race ceremony, and put themselves head to head with Greaseball and Pearl, and Electra and Caboose. Dustin's weight plays to their advantage racing downhill, and while the Diesel and Electric are busy fighting, Rusty and Dustin take the lead. But when Electra hits Pearl and Greaseball uncouples her at speed, Rusty sacrifices his lead to make sure she's safe. But, partly thanks to Caboose's meddling and in-fighting, Rusty and Dustin sneak up on the big engines, and as they get distracted, Rusty takes the lead, and he and Dustin cross the finish line as victors! But Rusty isn't interested in celebrating, he immediately leaves to find Pearl, Dustin staying behind to see the wreck of Greaseball, Electra and Caboose stumble in. This means that when Poppa turns up and wants to know where Rusty is, Dustin knows he went looking for Pearl, and he's one of the first to catch up to the young lovers as everyone lives happily ever after.

Appearance

Costume design


Gallery

Photo gallery


Cast

London

1984 - 1985 Gary Love
1985 - 1986 Drue Williams
1986 - 1987 Geoffrey Stevens
1987 - 1988 Nick Lloyd / Greg Ellis
1988 - 1989 Danny Metcalfe
1989 - 1990 Garry Noakes
1990 - 1991 George Canning
1991 - 1992 Mark Davis
1992 - 1995 Graham Martin
1995 - 1997 Jason Capewell
1997 - 1998 Carl Sanderson
1998 - 2000 Graham Martin
2000 - 2002 Dale Branston

Broadway

1987 - 1988 Michael Scott Gregory
1988 - 1989 Keith Allen

Japan / Australia Tours

1987 Geoffrey Stevens
1990 Earl Rhimer

Bochum, Germany

1988 - 1989 Garry Noakes
1989 - 1990 Glenn Neate
1990 - 1991 Ramon Visser / Nick Lloyd
1991 - 1992 Jesse Adams
1992 - 1993 Steven Kent Dry / Yilmaz Aktepe
1993 - 1994 Nick Lloyd
1994 - 1995 Chris Andrew Mellon
1995 - 1996 Matthew Cutts
1996 - 1997 Dustin Dubreuil
1997 - 1998 Jem Brent
1998 - 1999 Ralf Schaedler
1999 - 2000 Matthew Wing
2000 - 2001 Robbie Frier
2001 - 2003 Ken Anthony Nelson
2003 - 2005 Alexander Wengel
2005 - 2006 Stuart Tayler
2006 - 2008 Dario Mazzoli
2008 - 2010 Jamie Capewell
2010 - 2012 Marlon Moore
2012 - 2013 Richard Meek
2013 - 2014 Gordon Gesatzki
2014 - 2015 Duncan Leighton
2015 - 2018 Gavin Ashbarry

US Tour 1989 - 1991

1989 - 1991 Anthony Marciona

Las Vegas 1993 - 1997

1993 - 1994 Matthew D. Burns
1994 - 1995 Tom Gamblin
1995 - 1996  ?
1996 - 1997 Tony Tripoli
Sept 1997 - close Michael Petersson

US Tour 2003 - 2004

2003 - 2004 Scott Bolt

UK Tours 2004 - 2008

2004 - 2008 Gavin Ashbarry

NZ Tour 2009

2009 Gavin Ashbarry

UK Tour 2012-2013

2012 - 2013 Gavin Ashbarry
Asia 2013 Gavin Ashbarry

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