Starlight Express poster (1984 London) from Wikipedia

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Additional Music: Alistair Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Richard Stilgoe
Additional Lyrics: Don Black, David Yazbek, Nick Coler, Lauren Aquilina
1984 London Credits
Director: Trevor Nunn
Set Design: John Napier
Lighting Design: David Hersey
Choreography: Arlene Phillips
Sound Design: Martin Levan

Trailer for the German production – Bochum (2007)

Set design by John Napier
The main components of the set were a series of tracks which extended out into the stalls, fully enclosing a block of seating, and at a higher level around the edge of the grand circle. Extensive alterations were made to the structure of the theatre to accommodate these elements. The audience were thrilled to have actors racing past them on roller skates all around the auditorium.
There was also an early example of stage automation, with a large flown bridge which rotated to connect various tracks and parts of the set together. In addition there were mechanical safety barriers which rose around the tracks in the stalls of the auditorium at ‘race time’.

All of the music for the show was performed by a live band under the stage. The stage extended out over the orchestra pit.

Radio microphones were built into the headpieces worn by the actors. 21 mics in total were used. The sound designer, Martin Levan used a large number of speaker cabinets all around the auditorium. This was the debut of Cadac mixing consoles on large West End shows (see Classic Gear article above)

Lighting design by David Hersey
Hersey brought the feeling of a rock concert to the West End stage with his groundbreaking high energy design. The Napier-designed bridge featured a rig underneath it to supplement the main rig when it was flown out.
The moving lights on the 1984 version of the show were controlled from an Apple 2E computer.
The lighting design (along with the running order and content of the show) was revised in London in 1992 to refresh it for a new generation.

UK Tour
The UK tour in 2005 used 3D projection (as did the previous US tour). The high energy races were pre-filmed, and relayed via 4 digital projectors to a back projection screen flown downstage. More. See also the LSI article above. 

Broadway Production
The $8 million budget and $2.5 million set transformed the Gershwin Theatre in 1987.
More information about the Broadway show.

German Production
The Starlighthalle venue in Bochum, Germany was built specially to incorporate racetracks and a large stage area to accommodate this show, in less than a year. Between June 1988 and June 2008 more than 12 million people saw the production.


8 June 2001 – Lighting & Sound International

The team behind Starlight Express, now in its 17th year at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, have decided to update the show’s lighting rig. After adding High End Intellabeams back in 1993, lighting designer David Hersey and the show’s original production electrician, Howard Eaton, returned this year to update the lighting rig once again. This time they opted to replace the Intellabeams with equipment from Martin Professional.
The Moving Light Company were called upon to supply the production with 24 Martin MAC 500s and three of the new MAC 2000 units. In addition, they supplied two DHA Pitching Digital Light Curtains, which provide a dramatic new way of lighting the spectacular bridge which forms the centrepiece of John Napier’s set design. The changes to the lighting rig were made in a tight 10-day period when the production closed temporarily to allow the auditorium to be re-carpeted and re-seated, during which time Eaton and his team also took the opportunity to upgrade the dimmers and lighting control system, with the rig now controlled by the Rosco-ET Horizon lighting controller.
Horizon programming was in the hands of Robert Bell, one of the creators of the WYSIWYG lighting visualisation software and now Horizon’s product manager, who worked with David Hersey and Howard Eaton to relight the show using the new equipment in a very hectic final three days.

More information