CCADS crew get their skates on for their latest musical

The cast of CCADS' production of Starlight Express
The cast of CCADS' production of Starlight Express
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But that’s the case as CCADS turns its attention to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical-on-wheels, Starlight Express.

The long-running show tells the story of a child’s railway set coming to life. Rusty, the steam train, battles to prove himself the fastest engine in the world and to win the heart of Pearl, the beautiful first-class carriage. The competition is daunting but he has the magical Starlight Express on his side – will he triumph against the odds?

With all the cast performing on roller skates, it demands an extra level of skill beyond the usual singing and acting.

Ross Cobbold, who plays Rusty, jokes: ‘It’s part of the fun of the show – if you like me you can see me sing some gorgeous songs in a great show, if you don’t, I might not make it through the show. It’s a win/win, I think​​​​​​​​​​​​​!’

Ross also led the company’s ‘skate-school’, which began training back in February.

‘I first saw Starlight Express in London years and years ago, and then I saw it again on tour, and bought skates immediately. I’ve been skating for enjoyment for about 10 years, so it’s been a while.

‘Unintentionally, I ended up teaching the others at the beginning. I would describe myself as a highly adequate skater, others might say I’m being modest, but I’m not.

‘It was interesting to have a couple of skaters who are a bit older, and they did it years back when skating was a massive thing, while some of the younger ones had never worn skates before.’ 

As Ross explains, Starlight isn’t one of the more commonly performed shows by am-dram companies. 

‘With Andrew Lloyd Webber shows, most people have a little bit of knowledge about all of them, like Phantom or Cats they’ll know a couple of songs, with Starlight Express, a lot of people will go, “Er, it’s on roller-skates”, and that’s all they’ve got.

‘With shows like that, you’ve got to meet that expectation, you can’t just say we’re going to run around instead.’

CCADS artistic director John-Paul McCrohon, is directing, with Charlotte Thomas as Rusty’s love interest Pearl alongside an eight-piece band headed by Louise Helyer, not to mention onstage skating ramps and trains circling the audience.

‘We’ve been through three or four different sets,’ adds Ross, and he says the cast is ready to get rolling.

‘When you see the show, some of the performers who come across as the best skaters aren’t the most talented skaters, it’s their attitude and their fearlessness that’s what makes them so good.

‘I’m that person who’s been skating forever, but I fear that I’m going to fall and kill myself. There are others like me who, who are competent skaters who think they’re going to fall and that’s it,  but there are cast members, some of the strongest skaters who fall over every rehearsal, but they get back up again and turn it out. Confidence-wise I think we’re in a good place.

Petersfield Festival Hall

June 20-23 

ccads-theatre.co.uk