Galaxy Train

Galaxy Train is a new musical with music, lyrics and book by Eden Tredwell and direction by Yojiro Ichikawa. Like the galaxy train, it reaches heights that makes us feel emotions on the rawest level possible as we are opened up to new ways of viewing the world and life.


Based on the book Night on the Galactic Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa, Galaxy Train tells the story of Giovanni’s (Joey Zerpa-Falcon) search for his father (Liam Murray Scott) and meaning, as he is magically transported aboard the galaxy train with his friend Campanella (Misato Higashjima). All of this combines into a bittersweet story about friendship, humanity and finding answers to the big philosophical questions in life. The show runs without an interval; there is no point at which it would seem natural and having one would interrupt the flow of the story. The downside is that in a show with slow pacing it can eventually lead to our possible discomfort and loss of focus.

Tredwell’s music and lyrics are cosmic. They lean into the mystical nature of the story and manage to convey complex emotions in a way that is universal. There is a lesson to be learned in each song, even ones that appear to be more lighthearted, like The Scorpion, but which carry the same narrative weight as something more poignant such as Paper Boats. There is a slight issue in the balance between the singers and the orchestra; the former often being drowned out by the latter. This often makes it difficult to hear what they are saying or singing; an issue amplified by the regularity in which the mics cut out, interrupting the flow of the story.

Tredwell’s score gives each member of the cast the opportunity to show off their vocal and acting abilities, but especially their ability to evoke pathos. The narrative of this musical is quite emotional in itself, but the cast go further, sharing and infusing us with their emotions, adding reality to a musical that from the start invites us to suspend our disbelief. From the sensory overload that this musical provides, we are given a chance to reflect on our lives, relationships and place in the world. What is created onstage is simply magical and despite the darkness of some moments, we find hope in the cast’s performance.

Although Galaxy Train is a very heavy and emotionally overwhelming show, the universe doesn’t feel quite so large, lonely and inexplicable after seeing it.

Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

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The Blurb

Galaxy Train is a new musical based on the beloved 1927 Japanese novel ‘Night on the Galactic Railroad’, by Kenji Miyazawa.

It tells the story of Giovanni and Campanella, two boys who find themselves on a mystical, mysterious train journey through the stars and into spiritual realms. Impoverished Giovanni wonders over his father’s mysterious absence, while rich Campanella has the seemingly perfect life. Together they must reconcile their friendship, discover the secrets of life after death, and appreciate the meaning of sacrifice.

This musical brings another British-Japanese collaboration between Eden Tredwell, Yojiro Ichikawa and Théatre Lapis developed over lockdown with funding from the Japanese government, the musical received a Japanese-language workshop in Tokyo to audience acclaim. The song Those Stars also won the Stiles & Drewe ‘Best New Song Prize’ in 2021. With further funding from Japanese organisations, this concert marks the UK and English-language premiere of the show, and the introduction of a piece of famous Japanese literature to British audiences.

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