Lovable Rusty (a crystal-voiced Kris Harding) tolerates the bullying tactics of Electra and diesel train Greaseball (an enigmatic Tom Kanavan). The Hip Hoppers bust exciting moves verging on contemporary dance, cheering Rusty up with the tune ‘Right Place, Right Time’. Facing the prospect of racing without his sweetheart Pearl, Rusty draws on the spiritual power of ‘Starlight Express’ in a spine-tingling moment, asking the brave question: ‘Are you real?’. The power of the live band and Howard Eaton’s lighting for the Starlight Sequence brings gasps even to this diehard Starlight fan. By the end of the two hour long show, young and old are dancing in their seats to ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ with synchronised hand actions to testify to the power of steam.
Based upon Rev. Wilbert Vere Awdry’s Railway Series of books, there are echoes of the Cinderella story as Pearl despairs of her chances of joining back up with her beau. Electra and Greaseball collapse with train-like motion after ‘One Rock 'N' Roll Too Many’ like two ugly sisters. Dinah has been ‘U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D’ from race companion Greaseball in a hilarious Tammy Wynette pastiche. The tough talking voice of ‘Control’ that dictates race procedure throughout the show shows no sympathy. However, Michael Samuel’s faith-inspiring rendition of the lyrics ‘Only you have the power within you’ lifts the audience’s spirits (and glow sticks) high. All aboard the mythical magical train for Lloyd Webber’s finest tune, ‘I am the Starlight’. Shine on.