I caught the show just before it closed it’s run in the London West End’s Apollo Theatre back in January 2002. Yikes! Five and a bit years ago.
Back in those days, Fi Glover presented (starred in, even) BBC Radio FiveLive’s Sunday Service around 10am each Sunday morning. Perfect listening - once recorded for alter playback - to iron shirts to on a Sunday afternoon or evening.
January 2002 was also the time when the Transport Minister Stephen Byers was constantly in the news, the RMT union was on strike on South West Trains, and UK rail fares had just increased by up to 17%.
Going through some old emails that haven’t quite been caught by the data retention policy I found one that I’d emailed into Sunday Service, suggesting that “given the prominence of rail transport in this week’s news” the show should run a piece “linking in the current travel misery with the closure of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express [in the West End] on Saturday January 12 after a run of over 7000 performances.”
In what now looks like a prototype blog posting (except I made it via a national radio programme) I continued ...
“After all, it’s a classic tale of Steam vs Diesel vs Electric rolling stock ... and it’s now safe to spoil the ending by revealing that the steam train wins out in the end.
Maybe the Railtrack bosses should have been sent to a quiet matinée performance along with the train operating company’s management and Stephen Byers to learn about the fine art of making trains run efficiently.
And maybe the actors (more like athletes with the speed they roller skate around the set) could transfer into the rail industry as train drivers and guards ... with the RMT union overseeing their TUPE rights!”
While they didn’t run a package about it, Charlie Whelan did read it out!
There are still some seats available in Ye Grande Ole Opera House for performances next week. And if the touring show is anything like the London production five years ago, expect to be out of breath watching, and slightly dizzy as the
actors trains roll around the stage. And although they may not be able to whizz up past the front of the circle like the original permanent theatre version, it should still be worth a watch.
(Thanks to Donna Zerlina for her flickr shots.)