Andrew Lloyd Webber admits Starlight Express is "not the greatest musical I've written"

The West End musical creator hopes the revival of his rollerskating show will get more people interested in the theatre.

Who Do You Think You Are? S19,01/06/2023,Andrew Lloyd Webber,Andrew Lloyd Webber,Andrew Lloyd Webber,At the Theatre Royal (his theatre),Wall to Wall,Stephen Perry
Andrew Lloyd Webber has admitted Starlight Express is not his "greatest musical" but a great introduction to theatre. (BBC)

Andrew Lloyd Webber has admitted Starlight Express is "not the greatest musical" he's written but he hopes it will get more people interested in the theatre.

The 76-year-old musical producer has revived his 1984 show about trains, performed on roller skates, as an immersive theatre experience at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, reteaming with Dame Arlene Phillips who is doing the chorography. But Baron Lloyd-Webber said he thought of the musical as an homage to Thomas the Tank Engine, which he wanted to be a gateway to the theatre for people who had never been.

Celebrity Judges Arlene Phillips and Andrew Lloyd Webber judge the Dressage Materclass event Express eventing international cup
Arlene Phillips and Andrew Lloyd Webber appeared on The One Show to talk about Starlight Express. (Alamy)

Lloyd Webber and former Strictly Come Dancing head judge appeared on The One Show to talk to hosts Alex Jones and Anita Rani about the return of Starlight Express. They were joined by 17-year-old up and coming star Jeevan Braich, who was discovered on TikTok and plays Rusty in the show.

Lloyd Webber said: "The great thing about Starlight is is that it was a show that was really written about my two kids at the time, and it's really a version of Thomas the Tank Engine, but it's evolved into something quite different. It's really a show about,'Come to the theatre for the very first time.'

"It's not about, 'This is the greatest musical that I've ever written.' But it's a a fantastic show if you've never been to a theatre before. I think one of the things that I was most proud about when it happened was is that we had more people of colour in the cast in our first production in the whole of the West End at the time. And it's about just saying, 'Come to the theatre, have a great time' and hopefully you go see other things."

English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber pictured in centre with the cast of his West End stage musical 'Starlight Express', circa 1984. (Photo by Larry Ellis Collection/Getty Images)
Andrew Lloyd Webber pictured with the cast of his West End stage musical Starlight Express in 1984. (Getty Images)

Braich learned to skate especially for the role. Asked if he had seen the show before he auditioned he said, while sitting next to musical theatre writer Lloyd Webber: "My parents had. So when I asked them 'What's Starlight Express?' My dad said it's the only musical he's ever watched that he's not fallen asleep in."

Michael Sheen attends the EE BAFTA Film Awards ceremony at The Royal Festival Hall in London, United Kingdom on February 18, 2024. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Michael Sheen confessed he'd love to star in a Lloyd Webber musical. (Getty Images)

Michael Sheen was also a guest on the show and revealed it had been his dream since he was a teenager to star in a Lloyd Webber musical.

The Good Omens star said of considering a musical role: "I've considered it many times, it doesn't really consider me. That's the problem. I wish I had been blessed with the voice to play Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.

"I remember listening to Jesus Christ superstar over and over again in my bedroom when I was a teenager on my record player and just thinking, 'If only I could sing that song.' And whenever I hear that there's nothing more thrilling."

Lloyd Webber recommended the Welsh actor consider a role "a little bit less demanding". But when he revealed "my roller skating is surprisingly good", Lloyd Webber and Phillips said they would have to find a role for Sheen in Starlight Express.

The One Show airs on BBC One at 7pm Monday to Friday.