The Empire Strips Back 2022
This OTT burlesque is the all-singing all-stripping 'Star Wars' show you never knew you needed.
UPDATE, August 9, 2021: Due to recent COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns, The Empire Strips Back's 2021 season has been postponed to 2022. The Sydney shows will now take place on Friday, February 4 and Friday, February 11. This article has been updated to reflect that change.
In 2011, in this very country and galaxy, a pop culture favourite gained a singing, stripping burlesque parody. It's the mash-up that was bound to happen. Who hasn't looked at George Lucas' space opera, its sprawling drama and ample spectacle, and wondered what a steamier, funnier version with more visible butt cheeks would look like?
Russall S Beattie clearly did, and had a good feeling that other people would give it a shot. The Empire Strips Back was the end result. It became a hit around Australia, then took itself overseas to much acclaim. Now it's returning home for a 2021 tour — once again showing local audiences that lightsabers aren't the hottest thing in the Star Wars galaxy.
The saucy show promises "seriously sexy stormtroopers, a dangerously seductive Boba Fett, some tantalising Twi'leks, a delightfully lukewarm Taun Taun, a lady-like Skywalker [and] the droids you are looking for", according to its website. Apparently Yoda doesn't get the sexed-up treatment, but there is plenty of song, dance, acrobatics and — because it's burlesque — the removal of clothing.
A dancing Chewie and Han is just the beginning of this cheeky take on Star Wars cosplay. Given that it's got an upbeat soundtrack, the costumes are extremely detailed and the show throws out lots of references to George Lucas' original plot, it's not surprising that local audiences — presumably the same ones that pack out Star Wars parties and large-scale screenings with a live orchestra — have latched onto the production.
Heading to the Enmore on Friday, February 4 and 11, The Empire Strips Back sits alongside Dame of Thrones in Beattie's pop culture parody stable — so if you've already seen one of your fantastical screen obsessions get the burlesque treatment, then you know what you're in for.
If you're super keen, you can also nab a Wookieerotica magazine online: a 116-page, 70s-style men's mag, just casually featuring all of your favourite jedis, siths, ewoks and other Star Wars characters. Either way, it could be a great introduction to burlesque or Star Wars, depending on which way you're coming at it.
Images: Jon Bauer, Leslie Liu and Josh Groom.
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