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Starlight Express – Creating dance on skates  
A note from Arlene Phillips - original production choreographer

When Andrew Lloyd Webber first asked me to choreograph Starlight Express I was thrilled to be given the chance to create dance on roller skates.

We began with an experimental workshop in the spring of 1983 with our original director, Trevor Nunn, to whom I shall be eternally grateful for all he taught me about people playing trains. I knew it was going to be tough, but I never imagined just how tough!

In any musical the performers have to be able to sing, act and dance. In Starlight they have to do this on roller skates which requires strength, stamina and most of all grim determination. To build up this strength, Starlight has a lengthy rehearsal period which initially consists of skate training, vocal and physical aerobics, dance rehearsals (both on and off skates) coupled with specialised training to move and feel like trains.

John Napier creates a different design for each new production, therefore the show is re-invented rather than just a copy of the original London production. In the 80’s, Starlight went from London to Broadway, to Japan and Australia, to Germany and across the U.S and in the 90’s the show arrived in Las Vegas. In 2003 the show was rewritten, rearranged, restaged and brought up to date, ready for its current U.S tour and with the addition of 3-D film it now makes Starlight Express one of the most exciting and unusual theatrical experiences.

Starlight Express is a love story and a story of hope, all involving spectacle, danger, stunts and thrills. Starlight Express truly has something for everyone.

Arlene Phillips , from the 2003 US Tour programme

Posted on: 31st December 2002

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