Starlight Express

Norwich Theatre Royal

Norwich Theatre Royal

It's the show of the year, here in Norwich for an unprecedented month, and few tickets remain. But is it worth all the hype?

Well, the answer does have to be a big yes - this is a show with attitude. It smacks you straight between the eyes from the moment it starts until the final dizzying high energy dance routines.

Everything is big and bold from the amazing costumes (I wouldn't fancy wearing them) to the full-on make-up, the belt-out tunes and all those roller skates.

You don't actually notice that everyone is on skates for some time as they're so proficient. It's all the more impressive as nobody in the cast was a roller skater until they joined the show. Rather they are dancers who simply trained like mad to become so good - and fast. Lord knows what speeds they do reach but you wouldn't want to get in their way!

Norwich's Bekki Carpenter plays a central part as Wrench, a sexy, in-your-face component part to Electra who is my favourite character. Played by Mykal Rand, he's a vain electric engine who needs to be taught a lesson.

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Also look out for Pearl, a carriage, played beautifully by Miria Parvin, who has a great voice; Poppa, played by Michael Samuels, whose deep soulful voice fills the auditorium; and Greaseball, played by Tom Kanavan as a updated Elvis.

And the actual plot? It's all about three different types of engine - steam, diesel and electric - who are all determined to come first in a race. There's a good solid moral at the heart of this piece - that you have to keep on trying to succeed even when you think that you're going to fail.

Sure, we don't have the West End version - no conga lines of skaters around the auditorium for us to join in or that enormous bridge that descends on to the stage for the race scenes.

But the compensations are good. There are several fun 3-D scenes for the races plus a couple of new songs.

You might not have to engage your brain for this show - it is just great entertainment of the feel-good variety. And there's nothing wrong with that.

There's only one thing left to say - get your skates on and see what tickets are left.

For show dates and times, see our online listings, visit or call the box office on 01603 630000.