Starlight Express opened in Bochum, Germany on 12 June 1988 at a specially built venue, the Starlight Express Theater.
It is currently the only permanent production of Starlight Express. By 2017, the production had been seen by 16 million people. As of February 2020, it has been performed 12,000 times.
In 2018 the show received major updates.
As with tour, the Bochum production:
- followed the 4-race structure (rather than London's 5).
- cut the character of Belle (who was part of the show in London)
- featured "Engine of Love" and "Make Up My Heart" (rather than "Call Me Rusty" and "He Whistled at Me" in London)
- placed "Pumping Iron" after "AC/DC" (rather than after "Freight")
- used 4 Rockies (rather than London's 3)
However, the production used the London Overture and a version of "A Lotta Locomotion" featuring all 4 coaches. The race winners were also tweaked, with The German Engine going through to the final, instead of The French Engine.
Translation into German
Richard Stilgoe's lyrics were translated in German by Sabine Grohmann and Wolfgang Adenberg.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's involvement
Andrew Lloyd Webber initially took a hands-off approach. He did not see the production until its second year, when, in June 1990, he combined a visit to Bochum with a visit to the German premiere of The Phantom of the Opera in Hamburg.
The German production has taken temporary breaks to allow the set to be refurbished throughout its run.
On 13 May 2018, the show closed to allow the installation of the updated technology for the show's 30th anniversary overhaul.
In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production reduced the audience capacity to below the 1,000 advised limit on public gatherings - leaving the 1,600 seat theatre half empty rather than cancelling performances. A week later, however, they cancelled performances altogether in response to updated medical advice. The re-opening has been pushed back several times. It is currently set for 3 October 2021.
1990 to 2003
In the first years of the production, updates were minimal:
- In 1990, Rocky 4 was removed.
- In 1991, some minor revisions from the US tour were incorporated into the production.
- In 1992, the German Engine's name was changed from "Weltschaft" to "Ruhrgold". Around that time, full-time Gang roles were replaced by more swings.
By 2003 audience numbers were dropping. The producers sought permission from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group to make major changes to the show, in an attempt to create publicity and persuade at least some of the 9 million people who had seen the show to come back and see it again.
October saw the assimilation of the second US tour Hip Hoppers, replacing the Rockies.
In 2008, the "Overture" was replaced by "Entry of the National Engines" (moved from prior to "AC/DC"). "Engine of Love" was cut completely, with the melody recycled for Pearl's ballad "He'll Whistle at Me" ("Dann pfeift er mir zu"), 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 reworked to the UK tour version of "Only He" ("Nur mit Ihm").
The love-song was replaced again, this time with "I Do" ("Für Immer"). "Whole Lotta Locomotion" ("Nie Genug") was also added. Other songs, like "U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D." ("G.E.K.U.P.P.E.L.T.") were re-translated, as well as the show being re-choreographed and the lighting, sound and orchestrations updated.
For full information see here: 2018 Bochum Revisions
For complete Running Orders through the years, See Here.
Every Febuary, new casts are announced and then start rehearsing. Later in the end of May, the performing cast end their contracts and the new cast starts performances in June.
|Rusty||Steven Michael Skeels||Pearl||Maria Jane Hyde|
|Greaseball||Paul Kribbe||Dinah||Natalie Howard|
|Poppa||Trevor Michael Georges||Ashley||Roslyn Howell|
|Electra||Eric Clausell||Buffy||Carol Hoffman|
|Rocky 1||Lamott Atkins||Flat-top||Michael Rivera|
|Rocky 2||Sebastian Craig||Dustin||Garry Noakes|
|Rocky 3||Gregory McKinnon||Caboose||Hans Johansson|
|Rocky 4||Rodney McGuire|
|Krupp||Wilton Anderson||Bobo||Allan Edwards|
|Wrench||Louise Conte||Espresso||Frido Ruth|
|Purse||Christopher Todd||Weltschaft||Jens Klarskov|
|Joule||Janina Baucke||Turnov||Hansgeorg Gantert|
|Volta||Leesa Osborn||Hashamoto||Ric Mount|
|Gang||Steven Kent Dry||Gang||Nigel Casey|
|Swing||Gabriella Almerigi||Swing||Claudia Bradley|
|Swing||Renee Chambers||Swing||Nicky Forsyth|
|Swing||Petra Friedl||Swing||Johanne Simpson|
|Swing||Jan Apel||Swing||Martin Boothe|
|Swing||Simon Harrison-Scott||Swing||Kapa Kitchen|
|Swing||Peter Liciaga||Swing||John Little|
|Swing||Alfonzo Marino||Swing||Glenn Neate|
|Swing||Windsor Robinson||Swing||Marc-Anthony Satan|
Further Cast Information
Current Cast 2022
Due to COVID, auditions were unable to be held. Most of the cast stayed in and the brought replacements from previous years. Because of this, skate school did not take place and rehearsals began at the beginning of May 2022. The cast list was published in May 2022 before the new cast began.
(* New to the cast)
(** Returning cast members)
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.
Children's Workshop Days - 2010 onwards
Public Promotion appearances - 2014
The Stage - May 2016
One Night Only - English performance The Guardian, April 2017
- Steven Rosso, Twitter
- Starlight Express Alumni Podcast, Robert Pigott and Jim Harrison
- Starlight Express Alumni Podcast
- Fraley, Michal: Skating the Starlight Express (2011), ISBN: 978-1-4583-7432-5