THURSDAY night saw a masterful action packed adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webbers Starlight Express at a sold out King's Hall in Ilkley, performed by the Upstagers group. It promised to be unlike anything the King's Hall had seen before, and didn’t disappoint.

Directed by Paul Nowland, the two hour long musical was an enchanting experience from the beginning, and the cast really got to grips with the heart of the show, which is making it a fun experience. What was incredible was the performance took place on roller skates, just as it was intended by Lloyd Webber, with the cast effortlessly taking to the task showing no sign of awkwardness on wheels. With the stage impressively built out into the auditorium the audience were treated to a full-on and engaging performance, as the cast whizzed around the theatre in exciting fashion for the series of races and intermittent music. The whole theatre was entirely immersed in every race, praying for their favourite to win.

A notable stand out performance came from Dom Wolff as Greaseball, the cocky American train who was looking to defend his racing title. Dom took to the role perfectly as the boisterous Yank, as he endeavoured to impress Pearl, the First Class carriage, with his first class racing record. Throughout the musical though, we follow the journey of the lovelorn Rusty, a steam train that, all said and done, is less attractive than his worldly rivals. Played spectacularly by Dexter Riley, he battles Greaseball on both the track and in love to win his dream girl Pearl.

Emily Brook as Pearl was a real winner. She faces an internal battle that forces her to pick between the two very different characters of Rusty and Greaseball. She played a convincing role in the unconventional love triangle, particularly in act 2, when she shared a rendition of ‘I do’ with Rusty.

A clear audience favourite however was the lovable Poppa McCoy, an old steam train and friend of Rusty. The role was played by Elliot Broadfoot, who gave a powerful performance, and an even more valiant effort on the race track!

Everyone on stage was clad in appropriate attire, from makeup to wigs and outfits, which is a credit to the costume team. On top of the well worked aesthetics, the showbiz lighting was fit for any race track. The whole cast worked excellently together, bringing to life the individual standout traits of the characters, and it was a seamless and wholly enjoyable performance. It was everything it was meant to be; fast, poppy, colourful and mesmeric.