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STARLIGHT EXPRESS

TEMPO


Director: Vicki Clarkson
Musical Director: John Barry
Dance Director: Jane Wood

When it was announced that Starlight Express was to be released to youth groups, “How can they achieve the skating, and how could it be staged” was the response. Staging this show could be compared to an arena rock band presentation; all the theatrical departments have to come together as one to create a visual experience. At TEMPO, a fearless production team was engaged and the journey began.

John Slevin designed a clever set including three tunnel arches, levels stage left and right, and rail track around the flat of the auditorium. This gave the cast several routes to enter, exit and race. John also designed the most exciting and dramatic lighting plot. The visual splendour was a sight to behold.

Once again Owen Lewis’s sound design brought the vocals and orchestra into a mega mix adding to the production values.

Costumes which have to depict the engines, carriages, trucks and rolling stock were creatively designed by TEMPO members. A special mention must go to Lindsey Barnes for the engine styled race helmets. Every character became part of the railroad and their presentation was completed with hair and make-up by the team from Macclesfield College.

For this type of show the director has to be the captain of the ship, having the concept and bringing on board all the other technical elements. Here we had this production's successful formula.

On a health and safety issue stewards were present for the races. As stewards they did became part of the action and some costuming was needed to complete the picture.

Musically the score was well read and the band was in great form. With all the extra elements the cast members had to contend with, they also had to know their music, and they did.

The choreography / movement express character and storytelling as in ballet. Each routine and armography was another important element and were very well expressed in this theatrical jigsaw.

Eight groups of characters that were all convincing in their roles made important contributions; and the team work that is essential for this show was clearly evident. Annabell Haastrup, as Pearl, the dining car carriage, gave a performance filled with such understanding and depth; the other carriages were engaging.

Flattop,a brick truck, was effectively portrayed by Eliza Beresford as were the Hip Hoppers 1, 2, and 3 played by Jacob Beresford, Tommy Seymour and Jude Smith.

The Engines have to be so defined and stylised and able to sustain characters throughout all the action and the actors didn’t disappoint. 

Ben Lynch, as Greaseball, the rock ‘n’ roller, fitted well into the “pumping iron” character. For the future Joe Griffiths effortlessly portrayed Electa. He simply glided round the performance space. Now “No One Does It Like a Steam Train” Poppa was cast over the youth group age band. In saying that Max Fone, also co-director contributed mightily. The other steam loco, Rusty, was strikingly played by Sam Ashall. He got right under the steel plates of the character.

Everyone involved in the production reach the winning post together and the audience responded with enthusiastic applause