Friday, September 18, 2009

My Top Three Favorite Musicals: Starlight Express

Starlight Express: When describing this to people, I've often said that you have to be able to get over the fact that the characters on stage are trains. It's a strange concept, even for a musical: trains in love, racing for the big prize (actually, sounds kind of like a shounen anime), and on top of that, supposedly this whole thing is acted out by a little boy with his set of toy trains (which begs the question, why all the emphasis on who hooks up with who? He must have an older sister or something).
I don't remember exactly when I first borrowed the New Broadway Cast CD from the library, but it was probably when I was in seventh grade. I just remember that shortly after I did, I went on a field trip to visit a historical trainline, and had the songs playing in my head the whole time. This was another show that I shared, this time with both my sisters, and we all took to it like nothing else. We listened to it together, we exercised to it together, and we even acted it out together using my younger sister's Barbies and a handful of other toys (I specifically remember using a Woody, from Toy Story, puppet as Poppa/The Starlight Express). And years later, when a new tour was making the rounds, my sisters saw it together (as I was in college by then, although I saw it when it came to a theater near my campus).
Our love for Starlight Express was so great that my mother instinctively gave this as a gift suggestion to my uncle, and sure enough, I soon had my own copy. In fact, Starlight Express may very well have been my very first fandom, as I joined a Starlight Express e-newsletter soon after, and was exposed to fanfiction for the first time (not that there was a lot). I also learned about the upcoming On Ice and Mexican edition through that occasional mailing, and a good many other things as well.
Around 1998 or 1999, I got the original London Cast recording and was very surprised at how different it was from the new Broadway one. Between the shows, characters were cut, songs were cut and/or switched, and there were all kinds of different inflections, making comparing the two a case of apples and oranges. And when I saw the national tour in 2003, things had been changed around a little more, making this show a mix of the two others (plus the races were done as 3D videos, which was kind of cool, and a good way to get around having to rebuild each theater). Apparently the original Broadway production had an even more different plot, involving a giant silver dollar or some such, but there was never a recording made (or just released?) of that one, so all I know about that is from various websites here and there.
I am not a big memorabilia kind of person, but with the love I have for Starlight Express, I have come to own a few things, including a keychain (that broke ;_;) and a T-shirt with the original logo. I also own the German cast recording, but since I don't speak German or know anyone who does, I can't really comment on how it may have been different. Not to mention all those Andrew Lloyd Webber collection CDs that I got just because there was a song or two from Starlight Express on it.

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