Starlight Express.

Starlight Express is a stage musical.

Cast

Plot

The show opens with the voice of Control (whom the audience never sees) ordering his toy trains to racing mode. As Control begins to fall asleep, still murmuring his instructions, the trains begin to skate around the track. Greaseball and his gang of diesel trains interrupt, singing their own praises. Greaseball dares anyone to challenge him in a race.

The downtrodden steam engine Rusty appears, only to be ridiculed by Greaseball and his gang. Undeterred, he defiantly dreams of winning the championship race. The coaches question Rusty's ability to race, before introducing themselves – Ashley is the smoking car, Buffy is the buffet car, Dinah is the dining car, while Pearl is new on the scene and willing to try anything.

Greaseball returns with the 2nd and 3rd class sleepers in tow, again boasting of his own greatness. Rusty counters, bringing on the freight cars - Rockies 1, 2 and 3, Flat Top, Dustin and C.B. The National Engines arrive - Bobo from France, Espresso from Italy, Ruhrgold from Germany, Turnov from Russia, Hashamoto from Japan and The City of Milton Keynes from Great Britain – and prepare for the first heat. Suddenly Electra, the Electric Train, makes a surprise late entry. Electra is as much of a show-off as Greaseball, and suggests that he will take either male or female partners. The engines pair up with their racing partners, ready for the first heat. Electra sends a messenger to woo Pearl by proxy, inviting her to race with him. Pearl dreams of racing with a steam train, but Rusty falls short of her expectations. Pearl leaves Rusty unconnected and goes off to race with Electra.

In the first heat, Greaseball – racing with Dinah – cheats, bullies and forces his way ahead of Hashamoto and Espresso. Dinah isn't happy about cheating, and confronts Greaseball. He knocks her to the floor and leaves her, despite her pleas and apologies. C.B. congratulates him on a good race and, seeing that Dinah is alone, comforts her. Poppa, a retired champion steam engine, enters. He sees that Rusty is forlorn, as he doesn't want to race with anyone other than Pearl. To persuade him that he can still race and win, Poppa introduces him to Belle, the sleeping car, with whom he used to race. Rusty asks her to race with him, and she accepts.

In heat two, Rusty loses to Electra – racing with Pearl – and Ruhrgold. Utterly disheartened, Rusty returns to the scrapyard where Poppa urges him to trust in the Starlight Express; however Rusty is skeptical. To prove his existence, Poppa announces that he is going to race, despite all the places in the third heat being taken. Suddenly, and apparently through divine intervention, Control announces a vacancy – the British engine has been scrapped. Taking this as a sign from the Starlight Express, Poppa pairs up with Dustin – the only freight truck who will go with him – and races. Poppa wins the third heat by a very narrow margin ahead of Bobo and Turnov; however the race nearly kills Poppa and there is no way he can race again in the final. He begs Rusty to take his place. Unsure of what to do, Rusty asks the Starlight Express for help.

The trains all gather to argue whether Rusty should be allowed to take Poppa's place in the final. It is eventually decided that Rusty can race instead of runner-up Bobo. Greaseball, having dumped Dinah, invites Pearl to switch sides and race with him, to which Pearl agrees. Dinah worries that she will be the subject of ridicule due to her newly single state, yet vows that she will never forgive Greaseball. Belle, Buffy and Ashley persuade her to cheer up and try to get her man back by being more active, aggressive and manipulative. Shortly thereafter Electra invites Dinah to race with him, and she accepts, hoping to make Greaseball jealous. C.B., who has agreed to race with Rusty in the final, meets Electra and admits to causing all the major train crashes in recent history. He agrees to fix the race so that Electra wins.

The 'Uphill Final' is a dead heat between Electra and Greaseball, after C.B deliberately causes Rusty to miss a vital connection. When Pearl discovers this and threatens to inform the race marshall, Greaseball reminds her that she'll also be disqualified. Lamenting that this wasn't how she wanted things to go, she stays quiet. C.B. taunts Rusty, saying that he never stood a chance in the first place.

The Rockies let Rusty in on an unfortunate truth: if you aren't lucky, you'll never win – arguably a complaint about racism, as the Rockies and both steam engines are black and therefore automatically at a disadvantage. Rusty once more begs the Starlight Express to help him, and this time gets an answer. Rusty is encouraged to discover that he himself is the Starlight Express. Rusty stumbles across Dustin and asks to race with him in the final, and Dustin readily agrees. Dinah, meanwhile, is fed up with racing. She expects a train to whistle at her, and Electra can't, so she disconnects him. Unperturbed, Electra asks C.B. to race with him instead.

The 'Downhill Final' sees Greaseball and Pearl, Electra and C.B. and Rusty and Dustin pitted against each other. Electra and Greaseball are too distracted by their own rivalry that Rusty is able to steal the lead. Greaseball realises that Pearl is holding him back and uncouples her, so Rusty stops to save her from crashing. Greaseball takes the lead – but has no partner, in violation of the rules, so he attempts to take C.B. from Electra. The two engines struggle, again allowing Rusty to take the lead and win the race. Greaseball, Electra and C.B. however veer into a tunnel and crash.

Electra rages about the unfairness of his losing, then leaves the rest of the trains for good. Greaseball and C.B. begin to face the consequences of their actions. Rusty, meanwhile, has yet to claim his title, so Poppa demands that Greaseball take them to where he left Pearl, as Rusty is bound to be there.

Alone, Pearl realises that it was always Rusty that she should have been with, and worries that it may be too late to repair all the damage she has unwittingly caused. Rusty finds her and forgives her instantly. The others eventually arrive, and Buffy and Ashley reflect on how lovely it is when they see romance on the railroad. Greaseball apologises to Dinah, and she, forgetting her anger, instantly takes him back. Poppa tells Greaseball that he can be converted to steam, allowing him to be under his own control – at which point Control orders the trains to obey him, and do what they're told. Collectively they tell him to 'shut it' before Poppa, Belle and all the trains celebrate the power of steam.

Musical numbers

Act I
  • "Rolling Stock" – Greaseball and the Gang
  • "Taunting Rusty" – Rusty, Greaseball and Gang
  • "Call Me Rusty" – Rusty, Pearl, Dinah, Buffy and Ashley
  • "Rusty, You Can't Be Serious" – Rusty, Pearl, Dinah, Buffy and Ashley
  • "A Lotta Locomotion" – Dinah, Ashley, Buffy and Pearl
  • "Pumping Iron" – Greaseball, Pearl, Ashley, Dinah, Buffy, 2nd and 3rd class Sleepers
  • "Freight" – Pearl, Ashley, Dinah, Buffy, Rocky I, Rocky II, Rocky III, C.B, Dustin and Flat-Top
  • "Entry of the National Trains" – National Engines and Marshals
  • "AC/DC" – Electra, Krupp, Wrench, Purse, Joule, Volta and Company
  • "Coda of Freight" - The Company
  • "Hitching and Switching" – The Company
  • "He Whistled at Me" – Pearl
  • "Pearl, You've Been Honoured" – Purse, Pearl and Rusty
  • "That was Unfair" – Dinah, Greaseball and C.B.
  • "There's Me" – C.B.
  • "Poppa's Blues" – Poppa, Rocky I, Rocky II, Rocky III and Rusty
  • 'Belle the Sleeping Car" – Belle
  • "Starlight Express" (Introduction) – Poppa, Rusty and Belle
  • "Boy, Boy, Boy" – Poppa, Rusty, Belle andTrucks
  • "Laughing Stock" – The Company
  • "Starlight Express" – Rusty
Act II
  • "The Rap" – The Company
  • "Pearl Twirl" – Greaseball, Pearl, Dinah, Buffy, Ashley
  • "U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D." – Dinah
  • "Rolling Stock" (Reprise) – Dinah, Belle, Ashley and Buffy
  • "C.B." – C.B, Electra, Krupp, Wrench, Purse, Joule and Volta
  • "I Was Robbed" – C.B., Rusty, Greaseball, Electra, Pearl and Trucks
  • "Right Place, Right Time" – Rocky I, Rocky II and Rocky III
  • "I Am The Starlight" – Rusty, Starlight Express and Dustin
  • "He Whistled at Me" (Reprise) – Dinah, Electra, Krupp, Wrench, Purse, Volta, Joule and C.B.
  • "No Comeback" – Electra, Krupp, Wrench, Purse, Joule and Volta
  • "One Rock & Roll Too Many" – Greaseball and C.B.
  • "Only He" – Pearl
  • "Only You" – Pearl and Rusty
  • "Light at the End of the Tunnel" – The Company
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