Starlight Express the Musical Wiki

The Hip Hoppers replaced the Rockies as part of the freight train in many productions of Starlight Express between 2003 and 2018.


The Hip Hoppers were introduced as part of David Yazbek's revisions for the 2003 US Tour. They were included in the subsequent UK Tour and joined the German production in 2007.

All tours had the hoppers in the following colour order:

  • Hip Hopper 1 (Yellow)
  • Hip Hopper 2 (Red)
  • Hip Hopper 3 (Blue)

Bochum was the only exception changing the colour order of:

  • Hip Hopper 1 (Yellow)
  • Hip Hopper 2 (Blue)
  • Hip Hopper 3 (Red)

In 2018, the Bochum production was significantly overhauled, and the Hip Hoppers were replaced by new versions of the Rockies, including a female Rocky 3.


The Hip Hoppers initially used different music to the Rockies, with Richard Stilgoe's lyrics replaced by more rhythmically complicated lyrics by David Yazbek.

However, Lloyd Webber reverted most of these changes for the following UK tour meaning that the Hip Hoppers effectively performed the same role as Rockies, but with "street fashion" costumes and simplified choreography, and without the boxing references.

While the majority of Hoppers have been male, the 2013 Asia Tour included a female Hopper 3 (Lauren Hearnden Mayer).


Like The Rockies, the Hip Hoppers are part of the freight train, keep company with Poppa, Rusty, Flat-Top, Dustin, and on occasion, Caboose. And like the Rockies, the Hip Hoppers feature prominently in Freight, The Rap, and Right Place, Right Time.

But unlike the Rockies, they do not spar with each other. Rather, they take every opportunity to rap and practice their hip hop dance moves.


The Hip Hopper costumes draw on many stereotypical, dated elements of "Rap / Hip Hop / Street" fashion. They wear backwards ball caps or "gang" bandanas, over-size mesh-effect shirts with graffiti tags on them, and baggy pants. Contrary to other characters in the show, in their case the bare metal panel effect doesn't represent the character's bare skin. They also wear heavy gold "Bling" necklaces. Initially in the US Tour they wore their essential leather belts over the shirts, but later versions have slits in the the shirts through which the belt handles stick out.

The train-signifying elements in their costumes are rather less than in other characters, it is only the metal plating effect and the small amount of coal texture on their shoulders that gives away their intended designation as Hoppers. They don't have wheels on their gloves or their skates. Notably, Dustin has been established as a Hopper since the show's conception, but there are very few common features between them. In Germany they are still introduced as "Kastenwagen" (=box cars), like the Rockies. The same design elements have been used more recently in the "Street Cat Tugger" in the 2014 London revival of Cats.

Wig: Like the Rockies, the Hoppers don't wear wigs. To match their street fashion, they wear "metal" caps with some "Dreadlocks" attached (while all others wear a tight wigcap, the Hoppers' wig cap is knotted in the back of their heads, resulting in the "Dreadlock-appearance"), as well as a headband, that matches their costumes colour. The caps are rather difficult to sew and fit, so like the wigs, every actor has his own, instead of sharing. They don't have a fixed way to wear it, sometimes the shield is in the back, sometimes in the front, left or right.

Make-Up: The make-up is the part that resembles the Rockies the most, as the Hoppers have their numbers drawn on their cheeks. The main difference is, that the hoppers, as they have more metal parts in their costumes, have a silver stroke on their noses.


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US Tour 2003 - 2004

2003 - 2004 Orren Webber Walter Louis Stephen Maestas

UK Tours 2004 - 2008

2004 - 2005 Johnny Shentall Tyman Boatwright Craig McDermott
2006 - 2007 Robert Nurse Carlton Connell Tony Andrade
2007 - 2008 Damian Winter-Higgins Ben Harrold Robert Nurse

Bochum, Germany

2007 - 2008 Aaron Piper Alexander Lee Burgos Dennis Gradtke
2008 - 2009 Reginald H Jennings Adam Sheffield Daniel Smith
2009 - 2010 Daniel Smith Marvin Dietmann Marc McFadyen
2010 - 2011 Karl Seal Sharn Te Pou Daniel Therrien
2011 - 2012 Karl Seal Sharn Te Pou Daniel Therrien
2012 - 2013 Garry Lee Jason Guest Omari Bernhard
2013 - 2014 Dewayne Adams Christopher Jeffers Adi Suissa
2014 - 2015 Dewayne Adams Brett Shiels Ciaran Rees
2015 - 2016 Brett Shiels Cyrus Brandon Marc McFadyen
2016 - 2017 Brett Shiels Cyrus Brandon Dennis Spee
2017 - 2018 Cyrus Brandon Garry Kessing Dennis Spee

NZ Tour 2009

2009 Aaron Piper Sharn Te Pou Joel Hewlett

UK Tour 2012-2013

2012 - 2013 Robert Nurse Lex Milczarek Glenn Robb
Asia 2013 Robert Nurse Lex Milczarek Lauren Hearnden Mayer