The Star Wars-themed burlesque show ‘Empire Strips Back’ at the Great Star Theater is a real blast
You will laugh, fur ball, at The Empire undressesa star wars Burlesque parody show that uses the strength of elaborate costumes, props and puppets that are out of this world.
If you have ever clicked on a social media star wars-franchise or slapstick performance content, you’ve probably received a lot of Facebook ads recently about a performance called The Empire undresses. It is indeed a real spectacle; it opened in preview at the beginning of July, and this strip show very specifically aimed at star wars fans with an encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise had its opening Thursday night at Chinatown Theater of the Big Starsand continues its course (Kessel) until August 28th.
But The Empire undresses is not a local show. It started a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, specifically in Australia in 2011, and circled that country a few times. He had a brief engagement of 2018 at Warfield and played at a few other US venues. Your emcee for this engagement is Oakland’s stand-up comic. Eric Newtonwhich makes a BART joke without ever breaking its semi-canonical character, but otherwise this traveling revue could be plugged into any city’s theater, which it seems designed to do.
Even a stormtrooper cannot miss during a star wars– themed show in the Bay Area, where the cult fandom is strong. But still, the diehard Comic Con cosplayers will find the elaborate prop work, the costumes. and the puppet to be more impressive. (In particular, a fully operational R2-D2 unit is capable of some truly stellar disco lighting effects.) Thursday’s show clocked it at nearly two and a half hours, roughly the length of a star wars movie, but his asteroid field of slapstick gags never dragged or slowed down.
The show is very heterosexual, proudly lowbrow, and mostly female-centric. But that doesn’t stop standout male dancer Jin Kim from stealing the show, and it helps that he doesn’t have as much headgear as his counterparts in Boba Fett and Darth Vader helmets.
Of course, San Francisco has a burlesque scene light years away from most cities, and burlesque enthusiasts will hardly be blown away by the choreography. There is no essay on traditional tricks like chair dancing or fan dancing, nor on aerial stunts or pom-pom tricks.
Although there is a standout set, which may or may not be referenced in the photo above, which uses certain costumes in a Chorus line-Rockettes backdrop that achieves a memorable effect. Otherwise, this show is star wars camp set to contemporary pop hits, the humor of which is fueled by a non-stop parade of minor character cameos, with wildly popular results.
The Empire gets naked never reaches an artistic climax, but what will surely stay with you are its meticulously crafted props, puppets, and costumes, plus an absolutely dazzling light show. It’s a traveling show, but it doesn’t have the upholstery feel of those Netflix ‘immersive experiences’, as it fits well with the culture and vibe of the newly local favorite Great Star Theatre. embodied. And despite all the droids and wookies on stage, the human element is still strong with this one.
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Pictures: Empire undresses