Ashley the Smoking Car

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Louise Lenihan as Ashley (right) with Julie Newman as Buffy, Bochum, 2006

Ashley is the smoking car from Starlight Express, a rock musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber which follows a child's dream in which his toy train set comes to life. She's sweet and loving but has a bad habit when it comes to smoking. She is mature and experienced, offering worldly relationship advice to Pearl and Dinah.

In Expreso Astral, the 1997 Mexican production of Starlight Express, Ashley was renamed Bacha.

Musical numbers[edit]

When Belle was taken out, she took over the vocals in "Rolling Stock." She also sings along with the cars during Freight and A Lotta Locomotion. During Girls' Rolling Stock and U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D she sings along with Buffy.

In the most recent UK Tour Ashley has no major contributions to any of the songs other than the sexually-loaded Whole Lotta Locomotion, and is reduced from secondary principal to being an ensemble role.


Amy Thornton as Ashley, UK tour, 2007.

Ashley wears a tobacco brown costume, with a panelled bodice, a brown velvet skirt and ashtrays under the bust, which she uses. She carries a prop cigarette in one of them. Her costume contains many details lifted directly from antique Smoking Cars. Her leggings were originally plain brown, with fine gauge black fishnets on top. Like all Coaches, she has wheels on her gloves. In later years her skirt was a patterned brown velvet miniskirt, with three panels over the back, and brown tasselled braiding around the bottom. On Broadway her leggings were painted, a dark brown with orange cross hatching and a strip of 'windows' down the outside of each leg. Her skirt became a distinct lampshade shape, and her arms cream with black cross hatching, where in London they were simply black. She wears a "SMOKING" placard as a necklace.

In Las Vegas Ashley's leggings came off, as did her sleeves between the tops of her gloves and her bodice. Her skirt became a draped miniskirt not a lampshade. This design then toured the US in 2003, and toured the UK although it included fishnet tights.

In Starlight on Ice, Ashley's costume is designed to look like a cigarette inspired usherette. On her skirt is a purple box that reads 'smoking' in big white letters. Her hair is wispy instead of styled. She has metal ashtrays around her shoulders rather than under bust.


Ashley usually has a brown wig, styled up into a chimney at the back in the place of a bun, with a thick fringe. The chimney is often made up of narrow braids, but recently in Bochum' has straight hair combed over the shape instead, crossing over at the base of the skull. Exceptions to this are the On Ice production, where everything was different, and some mid-London years where she had a frizzy explosion of reddish brown.