Starlight Express, Brighton Centre, until January 12, call 0844 8471515

Starlight Express. Photo by Sam Stephenson

Starlight Express. Photo by Sam Stephenson

First published in The Critic by

The original Starlight Express was the show which heralded a whole new era of lavishly staged London musicals, where technology and set design redefined the very essence of the audience’s experience. Its famed half-a-mile of speedway track around the theatre took the action within touching distance of the crowd.

The decision to remount and tour the show must have felt like a series of redesign decisions which unfortunately haven’t paid off for this production.

Slotted unsuccessfully into the hall of the Brighton Centre, the “one-size-fits-all” set looks tiny in the “end-on” format.

The action seems so far away it’s hard to feel any empathy with the characters and the dated storyline, with simpering females wanting to hook up with competing males, isn’t strong enough to survive the disappointing design.

Yes the skating is great (although confined to the tiny stage), and the costumes, singing and lighting are worthy of any West End production. But the decision to replace the three races – the highlights of the show – with 3D film really doesn’t cut it.

If you know the show you may enjoy this as a refresher, otherwise it’s probably worth waiting until they redo it properly.

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