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Starlight Express: The Third Dimension toured the US from 1 April 2003 to 13 June 2004, opening roughly a year after the West End production closed.

The production was the first to feature new material written with American composer David Yazbek. As with the first US tour and Las Vegas productions, the race sequences were filmed, rather than performed live.

Production Specifics

In this production, Control was never referred to by name. Instead of beginning his announcements with "This is Control!", as he had in previous productions, he said "Attention! Attention, everybody!".

The production marked the return-for-good of CB/Caboose, who had been cut from the London production in 1992, although he was resurrected in Las Vegas and has remained a fixture in Bochum since the production opened in 1988.

The Rockies were updated as 'Hip Hoppers'. Stunt-staking race marshals, known as Trax, were introduced. Two national engines (Bobo and Espresso) and one of Electra's components (Krupp) were cut.

The production recycled many costumes from the Las Vegas production, including the "showgirl" costumes for the coaches.

Race Sequences

The set design of the first US tour proved controversial with theatres, as it meant removing seats and, therefore, cutting potential profits. Producer Nick Howey wanted to find a way to do the races without having to remove seats from each venue. Drawing on his experience producing the Las Vegas production, which recycled filmed race sequences shot for the first US tour, Howey suggested creating new race sequences in 3D[1].

Julian Napier directed the film shoot for video company Inition. The skaters included Paul Ramsay, Trevor Hodge, Sarah Landy, Dustin Dubreuil, Kati Heidebrecht, Andrew Millar, Jamie Capewell and a professional stunt skater called Storm. The shoot, which took place at a disused munitions depot in Wales, was fraught with problems. Veteran skate coach Michal Fraley details the process in a whole chapter of his memoir, Skating the Starlight Express.

Due to the reduced cast, the race structure involved three competitors in each heat, with Greaseball and Electra ending Race 1 in a dead heat and therefore both going to the final.

No film exists for the third race, as the film crew ran out of time[2]. This problem was solved onstage by having a fight break out before the race begins, causing it to be cancelled.

The final race shows Rusty win the race pushing Pearl, and pulling Dustin, unlike in other productions where Pearl is left halfway through the race course and Rusty leaves the victory celebrations to find her.

New Material

Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Yazbek collaborated on a new song, "Whole Lotta Locomotion", which has a more modern Pop/Hip Hop vibe, focusing on what the Coaches need in a partner, without individual introductions.

This production also introduced an updated Rap, attempting to sound more contemporary than the distinctly early 1990s flavour of the previous version.

Similar to the 1993 Las Vegas production, Caboose's role was minimized with no "There's Me". When the tour started, Caboose a shortened version of "Wide Smile" with Greaseball and his gang. The number would later be cut to the dialogue-only version of the scene.

Yazbek also rewrote other musical underscoring and recitative passages, such as the original characters' introductions in "Freight" or "Dinah's Disco", changing the music and lyrics but keeping the same spirit and context. Some of these lyric changes were to clarify story telling; others appear to be change for change's sake. Some changes were made for colloquial American English - for example, "Poppa, you're mad!" was changed to "Poppa, you're crazy!" to clarify between mad as in insane, and mad as in angry.

Many of these changes were eventually reverted to Lloyd Webber's original music.

The pre-recorded races led to some interesting plot points: the third race was not filmed, so the Uphill Final was cancelled before it even began. The final race included Rusty crossing the finish line with both Pearl and Dustin, and was followed directly by "One Rock & Roll Too Many", without Rusty leaving to find Pearl. This was then initially followed with Pearl, alone, singing "Only He", without a plot device to explain how she is alone at the start of the song.

The tour originally had used a version of "Only He" that was a blend of the original 1984 version and the duet "Only You". One major reason the original version of "Only He" was not used in later productions is that is it very vocally demanding; many actresses could not do the song justice immediately after racing. However, with the pre-recorded races, the actresses playing Pearl on tour could devote more energy to the big solo. It would later be replaced with the 1992 London song, "Next Time You Fall In Love."

Opening night incident

Starlight Express played two previews before its opening night in Biloxi. The actor playing Poppa (Jason) was removed from the production after failing to turn up for the opening performance. He was found the next day and allegedly failed a drugs test. Poppa was played on opening night by Peter Hagen, who stepped in at a few hours' notice and performed without skates. Hagen played the role for two weeks while a replacement, Dennis LaGree, could be integrated into the company[3].

Musical Numbers

Act 1 Featured Characters
 
Entry of the National Engines Ruhrgold, Turnov, Nintendo, Prince of Wales, Greaseball
Rolling Stock Greaseball, National Engines, Gang
Taunting Rusty Rusty, Greaseball, National Engines
Call Me Rusty Rusty, Pearl, Dinah, Ashley, Buffy
Whole Lotta Locomotion Pearl, Dinah, Ashley, Buffy
He'll Whistle At Me Pearl, Dinah, Ashley, Buffy
Freight Hip Hoppers, Flat Top, Dustin, Caboose, Coaches, Rusty
AC/DC Electra, Wrench, Purse, Joule, Volta, Ensemble
Pumping Iron Greaseball, Ensemble
Coda Freight Greaseball, Electra
Crazy Rusty, Pearl, Dinah, Ashley, Buffy
Pearl, You've Been Honoured Purse, Pearl, Rusty
Make Up My Heart Pearl
Race: Heat One Greaseball & Dinah
Ruhrgold & Caboose
Electra & Pearl
Poppa's Blues Poppa, Hoppers, Flat Top, Dustin
Rusty Why You Looking Sad Rusty, Poppa, Hoppers, Flat Top, Dustin
Race: Heat Two Nintendo & Buffy
Turnov & Ashley
Poppa & Dustin
Laughing Stock Poppa, Rusty, Greaseball, Electra, Ensemble
Starlight Express Rusty
Act 2 Featured Characters
 
The Rap: What Time Is It? It's Race Time! The Company
Pearl Twirl Greaseball, Pearl, Dinah
U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D. Dinah, Ashley, Buffy
Girls' Rolling Stock Dinah, Ashley, Buffy
Dinah, You're Honoured Purse, Dinah, Ashley, Buffy
Wide Smile Caboose, Electra, Greaseball
Cancelled Race Greaseball & Pearl
Electra & Dinah
Rusty & Caboose
I Was Robbed Pearl, Greaseball, Rusty, Gang
Right Place, Right Time Hip Hoppers
Starlight Sequence Rusty, Starlight Express
Rusty and Dustin Rusty, Dustin
Dinahs Disco Dinah, Electra, Caboose
World Championship Race Greaseball & Pearl
Electra & Caboose
Rusty & Dustin
One Rock & Roll Too Many Greaseball, Electra, Caboose
Only He Pearl, Rusty
Rusty King of the Track Dinah, Greaseball, Ensemble
Light at the End of the Tunnel Company
Megamix Company

Tour Dates

City Theatre Dates
2003
Biloxi, Mississippi Grand Casino 1st - 27th April (previews)
Houston, Texas Theatre Under The Stars 8th - 25th May
Atlanta, Georgia Fox Theatre 9th - 22nd June
Chicago, Illinois Palace Theatre 23rd June - 6th July
Green Bay, Wisconsin Weidner Center 14th - 20th July
Minneapolis, Minnesota Orpheum 21st - 27th July
Kansas City, Missouri Starlight Theatre 28th July - 3rd August
Dallas, Texas Music Hall 4th - 17th August
Orlando, Florida 1st - 7th September
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy 8th - 14th September
Grand Rapids, Mississippi DeVos Hall 22nd - 28th September
Birmingham, Alabama JCPAC 29th September - 5th October
Memphis, Tennessee Orpheum 6th - 12th October
Norfolk, Virginia Chrysler 13th - 19th October
Charlotte, North Carolina Blumenthal 20th - 26th October
Tampa, Florida 27th October - 2nd November
St Louis, Missouri Fox 3rd - 16th November
East Lansing, Mississippi Wharton 17th - 23rd November
Syracuse, New York State 24th - 30th November
Buffalo, New York State 1st - 7th December
Cleveland, Ohio Palace Theatre 8th - 21st December
Costa Mesa, California 22nd December - 4th January 2004
Tempe, Arizona 5th - 11th January
Tucson, Arizona 12th - 18th January
Las Vegas, Nevada Aladdin 19th - 25th January
Los Angeles, California Pantages 26th January - 8th February
San Jose, California CPA 8th - 21st March
San Diego, California Civic Theatre 1st - 7th March
Sacramento, California Civic 8th - 21st March
Portland, Oregon 22nd - 28th March
Seattle, Washington Paramount 29th March - 4th April
Omaha, NE 5th - 11th April
Boston, Massachusetts Wang 26th April - 2nd May
Richmond, Virginia Landmark 3rd - 9th May
Providence, Rhode Island Providence PAC 17th - 23rd May
Hartford, Connecticut Bushnell 7th - 13th June

Tour Dates Reference [4]

Cast

2003-04 Cast
Rusty Franklyn Warfield Pearl Clarissa Grace
Greaseball Drue Williams Dinah Katie O'Toole
Electra Dustin Dubreuil Ashley Kait Holbrook
Poppa Dennis LeGree Buffy Joanna Richert
Hopper 1 Orren Webber Flat-top Russell Saylor
Hopper 2 Walter Louis Dustin Scott Bolt
Hopper 3 Stephen Maestas Caboose Jeremy Kocal
Purse Aaron Coulson Ruhrgold Kristopher Stock
Wrench Robyn Hurder Turnov Brandon Warner / Graham Harvey
Volta Suzanne Wogisch Nintendo Robert Roby / Angelo Rivera
Joule Kelly Stensland Prince of Wales Jared Lee
Trax Ben Tucker Rotundo Swing Leesa Osborn
Swing Tony Andrade Swing Jeff Dean
Swing Paul Lane Swing Eric Christopher Freese
Swing Graham Harvey

Additional Cast Members: Beverley Braybon (Dinah, November 2003), Peelee Clark, Gary Albers

Emergency cover Poppa: Peter Hagen [5]

Cast List [6]

Gallery

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Links

Fansite - The Midnight Train X-ing


  1. Fraley, Michal: Skating the Starlight Express (2011), ISBN: 978-1-4583-7432-5
  2. Fraley, Michal: Skating the Starlight Express (2011), ISBN: 978-1-4583-7432-5
  3. Fraley, Michal: Skating the Starlight Express (2011), ISBN: 978-1-4583-7432-5
  4. http://www.beeptwo.com/pearls/mainframe.html
  5. Skating the Starlight Express, Michal Fraley. Chapter: "Finding Poppa"
  6. http://www.angelfire.com/musicals/dyanarosejill/starlight/ustour/Tour_Main.html
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