Belle's Domain

Starlight Express - UK tour 2004-05

25th May 2005 - Southampton

Evening performance.

I was looking forward to this show- going with Heather, Amy, a big group of their friends. Heather and Amy practically LIVE out in Bochum, as they adore the german production of StEx. So seeing their reaction to the tour was going to be interesting. Their impression before seeing it was not particularly positive, especially comparing the photos to the german, and some TV appearance had not impressed them. But I got the feeling they enjoyed it more than they expected to... :)

Here are the notes I made, typed up as I wrote them...

Maybe it was the angle of our seats, but I don't remember seeing the big bank of lights behind GB when he first enters (alone) in Rolling Stock?
Understudy Trax- in quads
Strong skating from the whole cast
Jane Horn's timing off- over-use of Rubato or can she not see/hear the beat? "Whole Lotta" came in two beats late as she hadn't got her intro in in time!
Whole Lotta is a very long song...
*sigh* up a semitone......
Not Jane Horn's night- lost her place in the choreography?
"Whole Lotta" really is all about sex- none of the amusing double entendres in the original lyrics.
Jane Horn must be unwell - struggling with her breath to sing.
Did Jane Horn understudy Dinah? Her Pearl has more Dinah characteristics than Pearl.
Buffy slipped up in Freight - oops!
Hoppers don't have doors... They are Rockies in all but name and costume (and attitude)
Lovely moment from Flat-top - "Come on Dustin!" *SHOVE from behind*
Hopper 2 having a GREAT time tonight... shaking his arse at the coaches...
Strange bit of choreography, the girls skate forward between the freight on the "We know one thing, What we know is..." go back then straight forward again. They used to have the very nervous-making flip at that point, but didn't alter the movement when they took it out.
AC/DC introduction just isn't the same without Krupp...
I wish the components had more developed characters as they had in London...
They have definitely stopped using the revolve, then?
Tom Kanavan seems to have been listening to the Original London cast- reminded me strongly of Jeff Shankley's Greaseball.
Without the revolve, the skate-over in Pumping Iron has been changed- the girls are lined up left to right across the stage, and Greaseball just skates over lucky Joule in the middle!
The tour cast don't seem to get the grilling of other productions- difficult moves like the Coda feed thru looked unpolished.
Crazy hasn't been altered since the revolve was taken out, so Ashley's downstage centre for the Do-wops. Great to actually SEE her for a change!
Matthew Boulton as Purse is really superb, and so shiny!
Jane Horn seemed to have difficulty with the flow of her dance for "Make Up My Heart"...
The understudy Trax made a fantastic team with Trax 2 - Beautiful tandem tricks!
With no opportunity of ad-libbing during the races, Greaseball and Electra's sparring at the end of race 1 is particularly funny:
Electra: I'm prettier than you!
Greaseball: Oh wake up!
I know it's the way it's always been done in non-london productions, but Poppa's "Let me hear you say STEAM!" to the freight, resulting in their pitched "Steee-eeeee-eeem!" causes physical pain in my ears.
Odd detail I noticed in Race two- the racers skate between box cars... The Hoppers are according to the brochure, meant to BE box cars. How do you mix anthropomorphic stock with actual?
Gavin Ashbarry really shined as Dustin.

I HATE this version of the Rap! "What time is it?" time to go away....
Dinah would be less irritating is her mannerisms weren't echoed by Pearl.
The show makes no sense without "Wide Smile, High Style".
The race Three crash was simply comical to those who know the Bochum production... literally hysterically bad!
Hopper 3 was absolutely amazing! Spectacular skating. 1 and 2 both VERY strong as well.
As Rusty sang "I'm down, and I'm out." He got a big "Awwww!" from the audience. Heather said "shh! this isn't Panto!" Ohh, yes it is!
Poppa sang the line "Rusty you're blind, look in your mind" down an octave... gorgeous!
Mykal Rand is just SO funny... he defies description. But he falls over so well! He RULES that stage.
I still think the tour version of "Only He" is overly fussy, what's wrong with the beautiful version used on the Japan and german recordings? Still far preferable to "Next Time", as "Only He" is woven into the entire structure of the musical.

CAST

Rusty -
James Gillan.
As always, a wonderfully emotive performance from James.
Poppa -
Anton Stephens
I love this man's voice. Wow.
Greaseball-
Tom Kanavan
Apart from lacking the years of skate experience and training that many Greaseballs acquire, Tom is a very good GB. He's a great character.
Electra -
Mykal Rand
Mykal projects such a sense of enjoyment in the show, he is a wonder to watch. He may not take Electra to be a serious competitor, but he is just amazing to watch.
Pearl -
Jane Horn
Enough said in the notes above!
Dinah -
Tanya Robb
Tanya plays Dinah very well, but her Dinah can verge on irritating. However I think this is because we see her mannerisms so much - the squeaky voice, enthusiasm, in-yer-face cleavage - onstage from both Dinah and Pearl.

Star of the show!
Ashley-
Amy Field
Amy is simply an AMAZING dancer, skater, actress and singer. Even as the most easily overlooked coach, she shines. Her skating is supremely confident, her dancing is very impressive and she brings so much character out of a much-trimmed role. Plus she's tall and beautiful, and stands out from the crowd in the best way possible.
Buffy -
Ashley Hale
As with Ashley, the role of Buffy has so little to do onstage that against Amy's striking technique and looks, Buffy is easily overlooked. (why could they have not given the actress called Ashley the role named Ashley? this is too complicated!)
Hip Hopper 1 - Tyman Boatwright Tyman came a very close second for the Star of the Show award. Wihout having seen an understudy list before the show started, we were wondering who was playing Hopper 1, as his confident and impressively strong skating suggested a Bochum-trained actor. However Tyman has not performed StEx before the tour, and has developed such excellent skills that he managed to make Hopper 1 very impressive indeed.
Hip Hopper 2 - Tony Andrade As mentioned above, Tony was having a great time onstage! seeing the cast having fun makes he audience enjoy the show even more.
Hip Hopper 3 - Craig McDermott Some very impressive skating from Craig, who WAS trained in germany. All round an excellent set of Freight!
Flat-top - Paul Christopher Paul was so very funny... another person having a lot of fun and giving anyone watching him a laugh too!
Dustin - Gavin Ashbarry Gavin's Dustin is such a sweet character, shy and vulnerable, cheerful and easygoing. One of the best Dustins I've seen.
Caboose - Grant Murphy Poor Grant has so little to do in such a cut-down production that he has little opportunity to convey the character.
Trax -
Andrew Millar
Some beautiful synchronised skating from Andrew and Adam Floyd!
Trax 2/Brit-
Adam Floyd
As ever, it seems slightly out of place for the bumbling, late British train to execute beautiful backflips..... But he does them so WELL!
Ruhrgold -
Jake Samuels
Good performance in an unrewarding role.
Turnov -
Chris Thatcher
The Nationals just don't get to do much to comment on!
Nintendo -
Philippe Reynolds
I love his rather dodgy japanese accent.
Purse -
James Marshall
He's so shiny, and bendy, and flowy..... fantastic Pursiness!
Wrench -
Ruthie Stephens
The component girls have very little character, sadly. Good solid dancers, they perform very well, but their characters are very undeveloped.
Joule -
Lucinda Gill
They also get less stage time to play about in to develop their characters, and compared to the coaches, their costumes are barely recognisably feminine!
Volta -
Lauren Brooke
Such a wasted opportunity with these three roles. But all three actresses do their best with what they've been given.