It would be fair to say that a great deal of my musical taste was formed in the 1980s. Brian, my best friend at the time, was constantly sharing music with me, and I absorbed it and ran with it. He introduced me to diverse artists such as Kraftwerk and Mannheim Steamroller, both of which I still love to this day. Then there were the musicals. I’m an unabashed and admitted musical theater geek, but I wouldn’t be if Brian hadn’t had musicals in the collection.
In 1984, he got the soundtrack to a new Andrew Lloyd Webber show that had just hit Broadway called Starlight Express. The show is about toy trains come to life in the mind of a small boy, and it’s a spectacle- the actors portraying the trains perform on roller skates. I wanted to see it badly.
The original Broadway run was only a few years, but the UK show was on the West End in London for years- over 7400 performances. In the early 1990s, I found out that another friend of mine, Chris, had been to see it in London. He told me that he fell asleep during the show because he was jet-lagged, and I never quite forgave him for that blasphemy.
In 1992, the London show was heavily revised as “The New Starlight Express,” and a new cast recording was released. I didn’t care much for the revisions- they removed a villain character who I always felt was vital to making the plot interesting. They also dropped a few songs that I was particularly fond of, and added a bunch of new songs that I didn’t think were as good. I still wanted to see it though.
(Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in a detailed breakdown of the changes made in the 1992 version, the Starlight Express Wikipedia article contains more information than anyone will ever need.)
About two months ago, I was perusing a list of live music scattered around Germany. Concerts, musicals, and the like were all represented, and I saw that Starlight Express was in Bochum. A quick map check showed me that Bochum is easily reachable by train, and I put it on my list of “I’d like to do that sometime” jaunts. It’s a pretty big list.