In 1976, inspired by a trip on the Valley Railroad in New England with his children, Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a few songs for a proposed cartoon feature about animated trains. The cartoon was never produced but the ideas stayed alive.
In the early 1980s, drawing inspiration from R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, rap and country and western music for his upbeat score, Lloyd Webber took those initial songs and ideas and composed a full length musical about trains. Eventually, he teamed up with lyricist Richard Stilgoe, expanding upon the concept of his lifelong fascination with trains and Starlight Express came to life.
The world’s only musical performed entirely on roller skates, the show premiered at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London in 1984. The show went on to achieve international success with productions on Broadway, in Las Vegas, Japan, Australia, a North American tour and in a purpose-built Starlighthalle in Bochum, Germany where it is still playing after 29 years and has been seen by more than 16 million people.
Starlight Express returned to London for three concert-style workshop performances in September 2017 with an aim to explore the score and lyrics, responding to audience reaction and feedback.