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’Starlight Express’ Review: Wobbly Revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Roller-Skating Musical Never Hits Stride

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variety.com

David Benedict Is it a musical? Is it a roller derby? Is it a game-show? When the roller-skating phenomenon that is “Starlight Express” opened in London in 1984 it was all of those and more, as evidenced by its 18-year run.

It lasted just 22 months on Broadway but in a uniquely created theater in Bochum, Germany, it has just entered its 37th year.

Might North London’s much-vaunted new version in a specifically rebuilt theater emulate that success? Hope springs eternal, but given Luke Sheppard’s surprisingly strained and only intermittently exciting production, it’s going to need a massive marketing spend.

Every iteration of the show has subtracted and added numbers to Lloyd Webber’s score. That makes sense since the show was never conceived as seriously thought-through musical drama but more as a succession of songs to create a fun-fest event about trains racing against one another to appeal to theater newcomers.

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