Thursday, April 6, 2023

'Empire Strips Back' is affectionate 'Star Wars' parody, fun burlesque


Fabulous dancing marks "The Empire Strips Back," in San Diego. Here, Chewbacca and Han Solo dress the stage in a wonderful dance. It's  one of the highlights of an action packed, unauthorized burlesque parody of the "Star Wars" trilogy. It is playing through April 30 in San Diego.
--(Photo Courtesy of The Empire Strips Back )



Emcee Eric Newton provides "adults only" banter and slick
intros, with clever commentary and a dramatic sweeping cape.

and Craig Ridgwell

(and courtesy Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox)

Hans Solo and Chewbacca
from the 1977 film. The parody
faithfully recreates familiar
characters and their costumes.

THE FORCE was with us -- and "the farce" paid a visit, too -- in a fun, hip, entertaining parody of the wildly successful "Star Wars" films. We settled into comfy chairs in a "pop up" San Diego theater, for a sexy, energetic and affectionate burlesque redo of one of the film industry's most successful endeavors. 

 The crowd whooped and hollered at a risqué reinvention of the 1977 box office block buster and its spinoffs. We were ringside at "The Empire Strips Back" with pop music, props and puppets in a perfect, fun adult entertainment. You'll find plenty of sexual inuendo as the successful romp plays San Diego, the latest of a dozen major Australian and U.S. cities to feature this engaging, original show. It's selling out every venue it plays, and just finished SRO runs in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

A half-dozen sexy dancers appear as Snowtroopers, in homage 
  to "The Empire Strikes Back," released in 1980. The show
takes its moniker from that chapter of the "Star Wars" oeuvre.


ONE NEED NOT be a "Star Wars" fan to enjoy the show.  We'd both seen the original -- I covered the 1977 world premier -- so we had an affection for the larger-than-life characters and storyline. The audience was mostly people half our age -- hip folks and sci-fi nerds not yet born when the first movie was released. But they knew the characters, perhaps better than the older fans did. Everyone loved the show. One longtime lover of the series told us at intermission that although she considers herself a purist, she thoroughly enjoyed this pleasing new parody -- even though it has little to do with the original story.

colorful characters and
over-the-top costumes, beautiful lighting and terrific dancing, the show is sure to have you laughing and enjoying. It is a stripped down, dressed up, fast paced parody of the beloved trilogy. 

Jabba the Hutt gets huge applause at "The Empire Strips Back."
The fun begins before you enter the auditorium when ushers direct you to your seats with their lightsabers. The delightful emcee, Eric Newton, opens the show with a comely nymph from another galaxy gyrating, smiling inviting us in.

A full bar does booming business, enhancing cheers, whoops and whistles from the full house. The fun tone is set as Eric takes center stage to introduce each fast moving act.
Sultry, sexy dancers in beautifully lit sequences delight
sell-out audiences at a pop-up theater venue in San Diego.

A captive Princess Leia moves sexily in a bikini to Nine Inch Nails’ "Closer." R2D2 does a cute cameo as a space pimp, making the heavens rain by ejecting wads of cash to the delight of the well lubricated audience.
Sexy stormtroopers stomp and grind to a pounding White Strips tune, "Seven Nation Army." A gigantic Jabba the Hutt has the audience giggling and cheering as he gyrates, smiles and leers.
A lightsaber has so much power that its bearer must strip.  There's a stunning dance number by an Olympic style gymnast as Han Solo with an endearing Chewbacca the Wookie. Their sweet, energetic dance has the audience on its feet -- goths and nerds alike.
Fun technical effects include moody lighting.

for some seriously sultry Stormtroopers, an alluring Boba Fett, tempting Twi'leks, a delightfully indifferent Taun Taun, sophisticated Skywalker, Droids aplenty and -- as they say in Vaudeville, "all that and more."
Creator Russall S. Beattie is the muse behind this unauthorized burlesque parody which originated  
Once you get your tickets, you'll enter the
world of parody and fun at a new pop-up venue.

in Australia. The fact that Lucas and Disney haven't endorsed the sell-out production doesn't phase the crowd.  Our Saturday night audience was in a "Star Wars" frenzy, clapping, shouting, cheering for two hours. During the 15-minute intermission, the lobby did a booming business on $14 wine and various souvenirs and paraphernalia. 
CREATOR BEATTIE'S imagination is limitless.  The "adults only" caveat comes for suggestive dancing, bawdy sketches and Eric's lively, x-rated emcee banter. The special effects are fascinating and larger than life, a la that gigantic Jabba the Hutt creature, a wondrous, on utter yet endearing arrogance. An accomplished ensemble plays

Captivating pair: Amanda Sitton and Sean Murray
shine in an elegant "Present Laughter" production.
BEST ON THE BOARDS: Sean Murray is splendidly elegant and sardonic in "Present Laughter," at Cygnet Theatre. The Noel Coward masterpiece, written in a few inspired days, features Murray as the aging actor, beset by midlife issues, an upcoming tour and too many women. Surrounding him is an excellent cast of innocent ingenues, a sardonic housekeeper, no-nonsense secretary, witty wife, demure dilatants,  and hangers on. Each character is portrayed with nuance and style. Trysts, twists and verbal treats abound as Murray dresses the stage in a stunning array of lounging robes. It's a perfect role for him. His extraordinary talent ranges from Don Quixote to Henry Higgins, Ebenezer Scrooge and a smashing turn in "The Rocky Horror Show." As the aging 1930s stage star and playboy, (played by Coward himself in the original production), Murray endows his character with skill, lightness and a fanciful range of facial expressions. The terrific cast maneuvers with ease on a handsome set, under the practiced eye of director/actor Rosina Reynolds. Through April 29. 619-337-1525


Heading into Katoomba town, Christene "Cookie" Meyers
and Bruce Keller are just off the train and off to their hotel.

UP NEXT: Come with us to explore Katoomba, Australia, in all its majesty. From the wonders of Scenic World, to fine dining, a historic rail station and enticing boutiques, this quiet little town near Sydney, Australia, is in another world. A world class inn, Hotel Mountain Heritage, offers spectacular Blue Mountain views and a terrific restaurant. If you're looking for unique surroundings, friendly people, ethnic food and lovely lodging near beautiful Jamison Valley, don't miss Katoomba.  Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, performance, family and more.



  1. Sacramento "Star Wars" buffsApril 6, 2023 at 6:22 PM

    We have tickets for this weekend and are SO EXCITED. Thanks for the fun preview.

  2. San Francisco BuffsApril 7, 2023 at 1:38 PM

    We saw it up here-- very fun, fast paced, witty emcee and beautiful dancing.

  3. Philly Star Wars fansApril 8, 2023 at 1:52 PM

    Waiting in Pennsylvania!

  4. Carolina "Trekkies"April 9, 2023 at 9:04 AM

    We would love to see this. Can you tell us where it might be in our region? Atlanta, perhaps? Will look for it.

  5. Wow! Who knew? Hope it comes here!