Belle's Domain
Rusty


Rusty the steamer

Nyaww, we all love the underdog who triumphs in the end, don't we? Rusty's story is the story of Starlight Express, and is not entirely unpredictable - Engine meets Carriage, Engine loses Carriage to bigger, faster Engine, Engine is back-stabbed by his friend. But he learns to believe in himself and gets the Carriage in the end. yay.

Early reviews of Starlight Express read a sub-plot about racism into the show- Rusty, played by a black actor, finding the strength from Poppa, played by a black actor, to overthrow the oppressive Greaseball, played by a white actor, and Electra, who was err.. also black. never mind. In the history of the show, Rusty has been played by such a variety of actors such as blond, feminine Bobby Collins, Arabic Koffi Missah, Asian Rommel Singson and the black creator of the role, Ray Shell. And all these different actors have played the sweet little steamer convincingly.

Rusty's costume is engineered to reflect his character more than his status as the lead role in the musical. As his name would suggest, he's all in browns and black, with details that are inspired by steam engines. Most obviously is his glowing heart- while I'm no expert on train anatomy, I recognise the doors which open to allow coal to feed the fire which heats the boiler. As well as the obvious "train" references in his costume, he also has influences from the uniform of a train driver, overalls and cap, and a sense of being striped beneath all the decoration. Rusty's backpack is his coal tender, and in some productions is it wired to light up, so the coal glows. I'd be a bit worried if I were a steam engine and my coal supply had caught fire, but it never seems to bother Rusty...


As the show has developed, Rusty has gained and lost songs regularly. My favourite is "Engine Of Love", the song which was the seed from which Starlight Express grew. Originally written by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1977, I believe, for a singer who could reproduce the triad whistle of a steam train, it was not included in the Original London production. However the melody was used as "He Whistled At Me". When the show went to Broadway in 1987, "He Whistled" was replaced by the far less exciting "Make Up My Heart", however the melody was recycled, with "Engine Of Love" replacing "Call Me Rusty" as Rusty's introduction. "Engine of Love" is much lighter and more upbeat than "Call Me Rusty", introducing us to a young steam train who is somewhat dillusional, as opposed to depressed and repressed.

The relationship between Rusty and Pearl is the central romantic theme in the show. Depending on the production, we are given more or less suggestion of the past between these two characters. Rusty says "Pearl, you said you'd go (race) with me" making it clear that they were going to race together, but any deeper relationship than this is not specified. On Broadway and in Bochum it is suggested that they have an innocent "sweethearts" relationship, whereas in london it appeared they had only recently met and chosen to race together.

Is Poppa Rusty's father? While they are both steam trains, I believe they are not actually related. If anything, I think Pearl is Poppa's daughter, certainly in an adoptive family setting, and Poppa engineers the whole races to get a nice young man for his silly girl. But there as many theories as there are StEx fans!

Bochum 1994 illustration


Rusty Portraits
Japan/Australia Tour 1987 - Bobby Collins Japan Tour 1990 - Bobby Collins Bochum 1989 - Bernie Blanks Bochum 1990 - Kapa Kitchen
UK Tour 2005 - James Gillan UK Tour 2006 - Oliver Rhoe Thornton UK Tour 2007 - Kristofer Harding NZ Tour 2009 - Jamie Golding

The 20th anniversary book celebrated the "changing styles" of Rusty over the years with portraits of every Rusty since 1988. Some interesting photo choices.

Bochum 2008

Kevin Kohler won the role of Rusty in a TV talent show in 2008. He's really, really good!

Bochum 1990 - Kapa Kitchen

Bochum 1993 - Bernie Blanks

Las Vegas 1993 - Stephen Michael Skeels

Surprisingly, perhaps, Rusty rarely features in print promotions for the show, perhaps because his drab brown costume doesn't glow and sparkle the way others do to catch attention!
However they seemed to make an exception for James Gillan promoting the UK Tour along with a strange assortment of coaches - London actresses, wearing London costumes (but not their own) with the leggings left off - not the tour costumes at all.

UK Tour 2005 - James Gillan publicity shot
Bochum Nivaldo Allvez (u-s) Jamie Golding

BACKSTAGE Rusty
Koffi Missah Koffi Missah Rusty with Belle
Paul Whitaker Paul Baker Paul Baker
James Gillan Adrian Hansel Adrian Hansel
Adrian Hansel Adrian Hansel Chris copeland
Chris Copeland Adriano Agostino Adrian Smith
Jamie Golding Mark Hedges Mark Hedges
Mark Hedges Mark Hedges Mark McGee
Mark McGee Mark McGee Mark McGee
Rommel Singson Rommel Singson Franklyn Warfield
Jamie Golding, Open day 2002 Jamie Golding, open day 2002 Jamie Golding, fanday 2003
Bochum 2002 Bochum 2005


Rusty Onstage
London
Ray Shell, london 1984 Ray Shell, london 1984 Ray Shell, london 1984
Ray Shell, london 1984 Ray Shell, london 1984 Ray Shell, london 1984
Ray Shell, london 1984 london 1980s london 1980s
london 1980s london 1980s london 1980s
Greg Ellis, london 1992 Greg Ellis, london 1992 Greg Ellis, london 1992
Paul Baker, london 1994 Paul Baker, london 1994 Paul Baker, london 1994
Paul Baker, london 1996 James Gillan, london 1997 Niel Couperthwaite, london 1998
Niel Couperthwaite, london 1998 Niel Couperthwaite, london 1998 Niel Couperthwaite, london 1998
Adrian Hansel, london 1999 Adrian Hansel, london 1999 Adrian Hansel, london 1999
Adrian Hansel, london 2000 Mark McGee, london 2001 Mark McGee, london 2001

Japan/Australia Tours
Japan/Australia tour 1987 Japan/Australia tour 1987 Japan/Australia tour 1987
Japan/Australia tour 1987 Japan/Australia tour 1987 Japan/Australia tour 1987
Japan/Australia tour 1987 Japan/Australia tour 1987 Japan/Australia tour 1987
Japan tour 1990 Japan tour 1990 Japan tour 1990
Japan tour 1990 Japan tour 1990

Bochum, Germany
Bochum 1988 Bochum 1988 Bochum 1988
Bochum 1989 Bochum 1989 Bochum 1989
Bochum 1989 Bochum 1989 Bochum 1991
Bochum 1994 Bochum 1994 Bochum 1994
Bochum 1994 Bochum 1994 Bochum 1997
Bochum 1997 Bochum 1997 Bochum 1997
Bochum 1997 Bochum 1997 Bochum 1997
Bochum 1998 Bochum 1998 Bochum 1998
Bochum 1998 Bochum 1998 Bochum 1998
Bochum 2000 Bochum 2000 Bochum 2000
Bochum 2000 Bochum 2000 Bochum 2002
Bochum 2002 Bochum 2002 Bochum 2002
Bochum 2002 Bochum 2004 Bochum 2004
Bochum 2004 Bochum 2004 Bochum 2004
Bochum 2005 Bochum 2005 Bochum 2005
Bochum 2005 Bochum 2005 Bochum 2005
Bochum 2006 Bochum 2006 Bochum 2006
Bochum 2006 Bochum 2006 Bochum 2006
Bochum 2006 Bochum 2007 Bochum 2007
Bochum 2007 Bochum 2007 Bochum 2007
Bochum 2007 Bochum 2007 Bochum 2007
Bochum 2007 Bochum 2008 Bochum 2008

US Productions
Broadway 1987 Broadway 1987 Broadway 1987
US tour 1989 US tour 1989 US tour 1989
Las Vegas 1993 Las Vegas 1993 Las Vegas 1993
Las Vegas 1993 Las Vegas 1993 Las Vegas 1993
Las Vegas 1993 Las Vegas 1993 Las Vegas 1993
Las Vegas 1993
US Tour 2003 US Tour 2003 US Tour 2003
US Tour 2003 US Tour 2003
UK Tour
UK Tour 2004/5 - James Gillan UK Tour 2004/5 - James Gillan UK Tour 2004/5 - James Gillan
UK Tour 2005 - James Gillan - flyer UK Tour 2005 - James Gillan as a muddy zebra!
UK Tour 2006 - Oliver Rhoe Thornton UK Tour 2006 - Oliver Rhoe Thornton UK Tour 2006 - Oliver Rhoe Thornton
UK Tour 2006 - Oliver Rhoe Thornton
UK Tour 2007 - Kristofer Harding UK Tour 2007 - Kristofer Harding UK Tour 2007 - Kristofer Harding
UK Tour 2007 - Kristofer Harding UK Tour 2007 - Kristofer Harding UK Tour 2007 - Kristofer Harding
NZ Tour
NZ Tour 2009 - Jamie Golding NZ Tour 2009 - Jamie Golding NZ Tour 2009 - Jamie Golding
NZ Tour 2009 - Jamie Golding


FANS of Rusty
german fan, open day 2001 german fan, open day 2002 german fan, open day 2002
Tom as Rusty, 2000 Thingywot, halloween 2001 Anna as female Rusty, January 2002
Open Day 2006