Starlight Express the Musical Wiki

Rusty is a young steam engine and the main protagonist of Starlight Express. He has big dreams of winning the championship railroad race and the heart of the beautiful Pearl.

Rusty is a steam shunter engine; His job on the railway is to move the rolling stock and assemble trains, but he is not designed for high speeds or long distances.


Rusty is kind and ambitious, but he is also naive and stubborn, which is apparent when Pearl rejects him and he refuses to race without her. The freight trucks and coaches are fond of him, but don't believe he is capable of winning the race. He has big ideas of who he is and who he wants to be, but he is left heart-broken when everyone, especially Pearl, ridicules him.

In some productions, he is portrayed as a hopeless dreamer, far inferior to his more advanced competitors. Other actors portray him as having the potential to become champion, but lacking the self-confidence. In the original London production, he was portrayed angrier and more jaded, as shown in "Call Me Rusty (If You Dare)". Subsequent productions portray him as a more optimistic, cheerful character, as shown in "Engine of Love" and "Crazy".


Rusty is first seen leading the coaches onstage, where he is greeted by Greaseball and his Gang. They proceed to make fun of him, which leads him into "Call Me Rusty." Uninterested, Greaseball and the Gang depart, and Rusty is left behind with the coaches. They urge him not to race, in the interest of his own safety ("A Lotta Locomotion"), despite Pearl having previously agreed to race with him. Rusty appears again during "Freight", when he leads the freight trucks onstage.

The next time Rusty appears is during "Coda of Freight", where he asserts that he is going to enter the race and win. He then tries to convince the coaches of his abilities ("Crazy") in hopes of getting a partner.

In the original West End production, Pearl is left without a partner after "AC/DC". Rusty once again offers himself as her partner, but she refuses, stating that he can't whistle like the engine in her dreams.

Later, Rusty approaches Poppa ("Rusty, Why You Looking Sad"), who urges him to race, but Rusty insists that he won't race without Pearl. In the original West End production, Poppa eventually convinces Rusty to race with Belle in the second heat. Subsequent productions have Poppa racing with Dustin, and Rusty agreeing to take Poppa's place after he gets worn out. Rusty then prays to the Starlight Express to help him ("Starlight Express"), ending the first act.

At the beginning of act two ("The Rap") Rusty confirms his intention to race, complaining that Pearl would be his girlfriend if he won the championship, and the Red Caboose agrees to race with him.

Despite his assurances that he will help Rusty, Caboose betrays him during the uphill final by not taking off the breaks, causing Rusty to go slow. When the race is canceled, Rusty is unsure if he is going to race in the rerun. He is then visited by the Starlight Express itself, who explains that Rusty has had the power of the Starlight inside him all along ("Starlight Sequence").

In the end, Rusty decides to race with Dustin against Greaseball with Pearl and Electra with Caboose. During the race, Greaseball uncouples Pearl at high speed, sending her careening off the edge of the track. Rusty allows himself to fall behind to save her. Luckily for Rusty, Caboose causes Greaseball and Electra to crash, allowing Rusty to take the lead and win the championship. Despite Control's insistence that he take a lap of honor, Rusty disappears, insisting that he must find Pearl.

Rusty finds Pearl, who now regrets abandoning him at the beginning of the races ("Only You", "Next Time You Fall In Love", or "I Do."). The two make up and share a kiss before they are surrounded by the rest of the cast for the end of the show ("The Light At the End of the Tunnel", "Megamix").


As the protagonist of the show, Rusty's role is always large. However, over the years and in different productions, he has featured in a range of numbers.

Original London

Revised London

  • Call Me Rusty - shortened version with the Coaches
  • Coda of Freight - Chorus, in which he takes lead solo
  • Crazy - with the Coaches
  • Starlight Express - Solo
  • Starlight Sequence - with the Starlight
  • Next Time You Fall In Love - with Pearl.


  • Liebesexpress (German translation of Engine of Love) - with the Coaches
  • Endlich kommt für mich die Zeit (German translation of Call Me Rusty) - with the Coaches
  • Fracht Reprise (German translation of Coda of Freight)- Chorus, in which he takes lead solo
  • Crazy - with the Coaches (2002 onward)
  • Starlight Express - Solo
  • Starlight Sequenz (German translation of Starlight Sequence) - with the Starlight
  • Allein im licht der Sterne (German translation of Next Time You Fall In Love) (2002 onward) or Du Allein (German translation of Only You) (until 2002) - with Pearl.

Revised Bochum

  • Fracht Reprise (German translation of Coda of Freight) - Chorus, in which he takes lead solo
  • Crazy - with the Coaches (2002 onwards)
  • Starlight Express - Solo
  • Starlight Sequenz - with the Starlight
  • Nur Mit Ihm - (German translation of Only He) - With Pearl
  • Für Immer - (German translation of I Do) - With Pearl

UK/US tour

  • Coda of Freight - Chorus, in which he takes lead solo
  • Crazy - with the Coaches
  • Starlight Express - Solo
  • Starlight Sequence - with the Starlight
  • Next Time You Fall In Love (US and the early UK) or Only He (UK) - with Pearl.
  • I Do - with Pearl

Japan/Australia tour

  • Engine of Love - with the Coaches
  • Coda of Freight - Chorus, in which he takes lead solo
  • Starlight Express - Solo
  • Starlight Sequence - with the Starlight
  • Only You - with Pearl.


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1984 - 1986 Ray Shell
1986 - 1988 Koffi Missah
1988 - 1989 Bobby Collins
1989 - 1991 Gary Cordice
1991 - 1992 Michael Cahill
1992 - 1994 Greg Ellis
1994 - 1997 Paul Baker
1997 - 1998 James Gillan
1998 - 1999 Neil Couperthwaite
1999 - 2001 Adrian Hansel
2001 - 2002 Mark McGee


1987 - 1989 Greg Mowry

Japan / Australia Tours

1987 Bobby Collins
1990 Bobby Collins

Bochum, Germany

1988 - 1989 Steven Michael Skeels
1989 - 1990 Bernie Blanks
1990 - 1991 Kapa Kitchen
1991 - 1992 Colin Munro
1992 - 1995 Mark Daye
1995 - 1996 Ernest Marchain
1996 - 1997 George Alex Livings
1997 - 1999 Paul Whitaker
1999 - 2000 Neil Couperthwaite
2000 - 2002 Rommel Singson
2002 - 2004 Jamie Golding
2004 - 2005 Bernie Blanks / Greg Castiglioni
2005 - 2008 Jamie Golding
2008 - 2009 Kevin Kohler / Jamie Golding
2009 - 2011 Kevin Kohler
2011 - 2014 Marcel Brauneis
2014 - 2016 Kevin Kohler
2016 - 2017 Jeffrey Socia
2017 - 2018 Michael Pickering
2018 - 2019 Blake Patrick Anderson
2019 - 2020 Markus Fetter
2020 - 2021 Max Rizzo (Cancelled due to Covid)
2021 - 2023 Max Rizzo

US Tour 1989 - 1991

1989 - 1991 Sean McDermott

Las Vegas 1993 - 1997

1993 - 1994 Steven Michael Skeels
1994 - 1995 Freddie T
1995 - 1996 Greg Ellis
1996 - 1997 Ernest Marchain

US Tour 2003 - 2004

2003 - 2004 Franklyn Warfield

UK Tours 2004 - 2008

2004 - 2005 James Gillan
2006 - 2007 Oliver Rhoe Thornton
2007 - 2008 Kristofer Harding

NZ Tour 2009

2009 Jamie Golding

UK Tour 2012-2013

2012 - 2013 Kristofer Harding
Asia 2013 Kristofer Harding