Starlight Express is back on the rails

“Nobody can do it like a steam train.”   Rusty

“Oil is the work of the Diesel!”  Momma

Jeevan Braich as Rusty and cast (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Twenty two years after it closed in Victoria, Starlight Express finds a new track at the Troubadour in Wembley Park.  I can only dimly remember the show I saw on its 15th Birthday in 1999 but I do remember being impressed by its energy and the enthusiasm of the cast.   What we have now in 2024 is altogether more spectacular with a larger Skating area and the most magnificent costumes by Gabriella Slade, state of the art lighting and lasers and special effects.  The foyer has been lit with a thousand glitter balls and if you look down at the shifting light, it can be disorienting. 

Ecologically we may have moved on from the reign of steam trains running on fossil fuels but the writers have brough it a bit up to date with Hydrogen as Hydra (Jason Vijn) in spectacular greens set to oust Electric cars and petrol ones.  However in this show Electra (Tom Pigram) is magnificent with lightning flashes forming a large 3D backdrop to his costume.  Electra also has a gang of four acolytes, with blonde hair and blue lit costumes. 

Jade Marvin as Momma and cast. (Photo: Pamela Raith)

The basic format remains of a boy Control (Cristian Butaci) playing with his train set after he was meant to go to sleep, having been put to bed by Momma (Jade Marvin).  Girls will play Control on other nights.  Poppa has ended up on the 2024 cutting room floor. 

The concept is the same as an engine and a coach will compete in the races.  The outsider is the Steam train Rusty (Jeevan Braich) who falls for the coach Pearl (Kayna Montecillo).  There is intense rivalry between Greaseball (Al Knott) who shows lots of machismo and all the other engines.  

Jeevan Braich as Rusty and Jaydon Vijn as Hydra (Photo: Pamela Raith)

The contests or races bear some resemblance to medieval jousting with figures dressed as elaborate knights with gauntlets and helmets and wielding large flags.  The race marshals and Control will travel on scooters instead of skates. The engines and coaches have backpacks with colour coded lighting, their lit up initials on the front of their breastplates and some with gauntlets that light up.  But it is the chase skating on the tracks which is the most exciting.

As a show it is big and brash and amplified but the spectacle is breathtaking.  A new song “I Am Me” allows the coaches to express their identity.  Some of the lyrics appear simplistic for instance “Freight is Great” but maybe freight trains aren’t the most articulate and poetic of rolling stock.  Although many of the lyrics are monosyllabic, I loved Richard Stilgoe’s lyrics to the song UNCOUPLED by Dinah, Belle and Tassita as romantic parallels are drawn between engines and coaches.

Jeevan Braich as Rusty. (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Jade Marvin as Momma sings “Momma’s Blues” a musical highlight of the show but it is the frequent returns to the pretty song “Starlight Express” that will have you singing this at the end of the night.

The opening of Act Two has “The Rap” with a hip hop type beat.  Pearl is seduced by Greaseball and there are plenty of flares, steam flumes, fireworks and flames onstage.  A race is cancelled when there is fire on the tracks but rerun.  The whole auditorium can be lit by a giant glitterball, or by stars or descending planets and it is the stars which are seen throughout for Rusty’s big number the “Starlight Sequence.”

The finale of the “Light at the End of the Tunnel” succeeds and Momma leads a victory parade of all the skaters together as a pure celebration. 

Starlight Express is not a subtle evening but one served with stylish panache and great visuals which the production photographs do not really do justice to.    

Al Knott as Greaseball (Photo: Pamela Raith)

Musical Numbers

Act One

Overture /Entry of Trains

Rolling Stock


Call Me Rusty

I Am Me

Whistle at Me



Pumping Iron

Coda of Freight

Make Up My Heart

Race One

Momma’s Blues

Race Two

Laughing Stock

Starlight Express



Act Two

The Rap


Wide Smile

Race Three

Starlight Sequence


Pre Race Four

Race Four

Race Four

One Rock ‘N’ Roll Too Many

I Do

Light At The End Of The Tunnel



Production Notes

Production Notes

Starlight Express

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by Richard Stilgoe

Directed by Luke Sheppard



Jeevan Braich

Kayna Montecillo

Jade Marvin

Al Knott 

Eve Humphrey

Tom Pigram  


Ashlyn Weeks

Renz Cardinas

Jaden Vijn

Lewis Kidd

Harrison Peterkin

Emily Martinez

Jessica Vaux

Asher Forth

David Peter Brown

Oscar Cong

Marianthe Panas

Pablo Gõmez Jones

Lilianna Hendy

Catherine Cornwall

Ollie Augustin


Kelly Downing

Lucy Glover

Hannah Kiss

Laura Vina Uzcatia

Jesse Angell

Bethany Rose Lythgoe

Deearna McLean

Jamie Cruttenden

Gary Sheridan

Scott Hayward


Charles Butcher

Sam Gallacher

Isaac Edwards

Jamie Addison

Jessie Angell

Ollie Augustin

Charles Butcher

Young Actors:

Shaniyah Abrahams

Cristian Buttaci

Alexander Brooks

Barnaby Halliwell

Mimi Soetan

Arabella Stanton.


Director: Luke Sheppard

Choreographer: Ashley Nottingham

Creative Dramaturg: Arlene Phillips

Set Designer: Tim Hatley

Costume Designer:  Gabrielle Slade

Musical Supervisor and New


Matthew Brind

Musical Supervisor:

David Andrew Wilson

Lighting Designer:  Howard Hudson

Sound Designer: Gareth Owen

Video and Projection:  Andrzej Golding

Musical Director: Laura Bangay


Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval

Booking until 8th June 2025



Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

3 Fulton Road

Wembley HA9 0SP

Tube: Wembley Park


Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Troubadour Theatre

on 30th June 2024

The Auditorium. (Photo: Jamie Taylor)