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Multiple Views: Geekenders’ Star Wars – The Empire Strips Back

Burlesque, Events, Showcase

May 22, 2017

Geekenders recently returned to the Rio Theater with an entirely rewritten script from the second of their Star Wars parodies for a remount. Three members of the Living Myth offices were invited to come in and take a look: CEO and founder, Aaron Golden, COO and head of everything, Anne Honeycutt, and newcomer Meghan Duffy. All three loved what they saw, though they came at their enjoyment from very different places.

 

Aaron Golden says: 

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back shouldn’t work.

Narratively, it looks like nothing happens: Luke leaves his friends and goes to a swamp, then goes to Cloud City and walks into a trap. Han and Leia and the rest leave Hoth, run from the Empire, run from the empire some more, and then get caught by the Empire. That’s it. That’s the movie.

And yet people seem to think it’s the strongest of the Star Wars films.

With only a bare scrap of plot, Empire has managed to carve a place for itself in the cultural consciousness, digging deeper than Episode IV did and only facing arguable competition for “Best of the Star Wars” movies by Rogue One.

The reason for this?

Character development.

Empire is nothing but character development. There’s enough nuance and subtext in that movie to make the first movie stronger and set the stage for Return of the Jedi and everything to follow. We learn how powerful the Empire is and that a single military loss isn’t going to slow them down. Luke learns about himself, his family, and the Force. Han and Leia develop an actual relationship that looks to end in heartbreak. Lando…

Lando is introduced and becomes one of the most subtle characters in the whole series. A con man forced into an untenable position, he tries to drive Han off through insults while not putting his city in danger. When the Empire betrays him he’s got plans and backup plans ready. He’s a perfect shade of gray, a character in the heart of Han Solo, and he adds complexity to an already complex series of relationships.

The problem with parodying Empire, then, lies in its threadbare story. This lack has haunted previous attempts to lampoon this movie, but Geekenders does the tale right by not only acknowledging the weak plot but outright attacking it while focusing on the main characters and giving them even more depth. This is a new, punnier script, and once the curtains go up and the text crawls up you know you’re in for some insanely funny sensuality.

Luke’s farm boy idiocy, his “I’m playing a barbarian and maxed out my charisma stat,” is in full effect here as Draco Muff-boi returns to the role with their usual charm and makes Luke irritably likable. Stephen Blakley adds a note of desperation to his relationship with Jayne Fondue’s regal Leia, creating balance in their relationship and making his world-weary sense of genre-savvy impossibly more wry.

R2DoubleD and David Ten-Inch add surprising pathos to the droids and Androsia Wilde plays Lando with all of the aforementioned complexity that the character deserves. Veronica Vamp slays as Darth Vader, Kitty Glitter is riotous as Chewie, and Lithium Little adds a touch of spiritual sexuality as Yoda, but it’s the comedic turn of Seamus Fit-It-In as Boba Fett that hit the audience out of nowhere, pushing the crowd into a fit if hysterical giggling.

This was perfect. The Empire Strips Back takes everything great about the source material and celebrates it while adding a unique spin to each character and giving everyone a moment to shine. Even the Storm Troopers have personality here, and every moment Susan the Storm Trooper is stepping out of line is an utter delight.

Geekenders returns to the Rio Theater with two performances of the Empire Strips Back on May 26th and 27th, with doors opening at seven and the show starting promptly at eight. The showing we saw was completely sold out, so you’ll definitely want to order tickets in advance, which you can do by clicking here. Tickets are $20 from the interwebs or $25 day of the box office.

Anne Honeycutt says:

I have said this before but I don’t think I will ever get tired of saying it, this is the best season Geekenders’ has ever had. It is not an easy feat to sell out The Rio theatre, and it is certainly not easy with doing a remount but the Geekenders Star Wars shows are an institution.

With a newly punched up script, revamped choreography and dazzling costumes the show has been transformed into a delightful geeklesque masterpiece. You can tell that they worked so hard on this and it has paid off. They have been tireless in their goals to make burlesque a safe welcoming experience for all involved. Risque but respectful humour; permission to explore and enjoy the human form in all shapes, sizes, creeds and ability; and above all else celebrating the spirit of rebellion from oppression one shimmy-shake at a time.

Meghan Duffy says:

You won’t find their number written in a bathroom stall, but if you are looking for a good time I would highly recommend Geekenders’ Star Wars Burlesque: The Empire Strips Back.

Somewhere over the roaring of the crowd, amidst the whistles and woos, the sound of my proverbial burlesque cherry being popped could be heard as I squealed with delight. It was a scream, a blast, a show I hoped would never end. Squishy feelings aside, I want to talk about the performers. This is a production where you can really feel the amount of dedication and hard work poured into it.

Spoiler – it’s a lot.

I really felt the passion, the love, and the joy from everyone who was on stage, regardless of how much time they spent up there. It was the epitome of heart and soul.

Vader’s performance is one that stands out to me. Played by Veronica Vamp, Vader’s act was one that will be hard to dominate. There is something to be said about seeing Darth Vader played by a drag queen strutting and bouncing across the stage to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”. Whatever that thing was, it seems to have escaped me as I was – and still am – totally lost in amazement.

Though I have to say my heart could not remain faithful this evening – among the fabulously sexy Stormtroopers, the smoldering Han Solo, the raunchy Chewbacca, there was R2D2 (Played by R2DoubleD). Bouncy, bodacious, beautiful R2D2. Gliding around the stage like some sort of sexy droid angel, equipped with roller skates for the entire performance – an impressive feat. The skates definitely added a special flavor to dance numbers and general background tomfoolery.

There is a scene where the song “Somewhere Out There” (as many of us know from An American Tail/Fievel Goes West, and part of me wishes they had used those versions) comes on, and it’s something special. As seriously as you can take a blue haired woman on roller skates whipping around with a gold-clad man in tow, this really tugged at my heartstrings.

Judging by the audience, it tugged them too. There were a few people around me singing along to the music, and I won’t lie, I did as well. There were quite a few songs to sing along to. Each number inspired a silent – and sometimes not so silent – cheer from me, the nostalgia is strong with this one. There was a perfect level of audience interaction that I found delightful, just enough to make it fun but the performance didn’t depend on it.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but make sure you get your throwing arms ready. The only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was one small joke where C3P0 was compared to Sheldon Cooper, but then again I was never a fan of Big Bang Theory.

Overall this was a fantastic performance. A wild ride, much like a mechanical bull bucking ‘twixt your legs on a steamy Friday night.

All photos credit Pierre Chum

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957

The D-Cast Episode 54 – The Force Awakens

Culture, film, Opinion, Reviews, Why Aren't You Watching This?

December 21, 2015

Andy and Dale return to the D-Cast to talk a little movie that really came out of nowhere to dominate everything forever. You may have heard of it… Star Wars, the Force Awakens? You can and should check out the movie in theaters now, and then check out the spoiler-laden latest episode of their podcast right here, right now. The video version is sure to follow.

podcastcover1

The D-Cast can be found by clicking their name, and you can chat with them on twitter, too.

And you can check them out on itunes. Awesome.

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1138

Why I’m Dreading Star Wars

Culture, Opinion

December 16, 2015

A new hope. A new love. A new franchise. The Force was strong with this one.

A new hope. A new love. A new franchise. The Force was strong with this one.

I can’t remember a time when Star Wars wasn’t a part of my life. Snowball fights where the big kids were AT-ATs. Light saber duels with wrapping paper tubes. My brother making Darth Vader jokes while being hooked up to breathing machines. Star Wars ran like a river through my childhood – an abstract knowledge, bits and pieces acquired like overheard conversation.

Then it happened. A cold spring day in 1997, my dad took me to see the Special Edition release of Star Wars: A New Hope. A red velvet rope attempting to class up an aging cinema, my dad, reassuring, as we wove our way through the crowd, down stairs coated in aging purple carpet, past bored teenagers popping corn, into the theatre. The lights dimmed and those first words scrawled past; “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…”

I was hooked. Books, comics, games, I devoured it all. From the Junior Jedi Knights to the Old Republic, I consumed it all. Looking back on my childhood, most of it was spent with a Timothy Zahn novel. Other girls were spending their allowance on mascara or miniskirts: I obsessed over the release dates of new X-wing novels. Being a huge nerd and a Star Wars fan quickly became integral to my identity, especially as the internet grew. From my computer in Smalltown, Canada, I could connect with other fans across the globe. We chatted and gamed, spending years in a SW MMB RPG.

I’d found my tribe.

Although, yeah, we all did a Dark Side run, didn't we?

Although, yeah, we all did a Dark Side run, didn’t we?

Being “That Girl Who Likes Star Wars” in high school was isolating, and yet it gave me a world to escape into. A place where I could dream. In the Star Wars universe, no one ever tells Jaina Solo she can’t do something. Mara Jade overcomes the influence and manipulations of the Emperor. Corran Horn explores the complicated relationship between Law, Justice, and doing Right. Through these characters, I learned to understand a world much larger than the one I lived in.

When George Lucas announced the prequels, I bought in hard. Opening day tickets with my dad, prepared to relive that first magic moment – and nope. Instead of the world I’d known, I got two hours on a trade dispute featuring more plot holes than CGI. Even the supreme hotness of Ewen Mcgregor could not save it. My soul was crushed. Still, I could not give up on Star Wars; too much of myself had I given it.

Maybe, I thought, I could just restrict myself to the post expanded universe, write off all that prequel nonsense, and focus on the characters I love: Anakin Solo, Wedge Antilles, Kyp Durron… they were safe. So I built my knowledge, showing off to nerds and smiting casual fans. Was I kind of a brat about it? Totally. Was I a little overly emotionally invested? Definitely. I loved Star Wars, but Star Wars never loved me back.

Remember these things?

Remember these things?

Sometime in high school, the Yuuzhan Vong invaded. A major event that wiped out several key characters, including Chewbacca and Anakin Solo, just for dramatic effect. I cried. I raged. I stopped reading. Slowly, the books were packed away. The RPG died off as players grew up and I started to find other ways to define myself… but in my heart, I couldn’t let go. I’d catch myself glancing over titles at the book store, making sure my favorite characters were still okay.

When Disney bought Star Wars, I knew it was the end. They removed the pre-existing books from canon, marking my childhood “Invalid.” They turned R2-D2 into a humidifier. They started selling Star Wars branded oranges. I watched as they took this esoteric thing I loved and gave it to everyone. Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars has always been a marketing machine. It’s a fantastic vehicle to sell toys and I get that. It’s just hard to watch. The fact is, for better or for worse, now that Disney has Star Wars they’re going to keep making movies, tv shows, comics, and toys until the end of time. We’re going to have new Star Wars forever… and there’s something terrifying in that.

The Force might be strong with this one, too.

The Force might be strong with this one, too.

Suddenly, everyone is a Star Wars fan, and I just want to scream, “No! That’s not true – that’s impossible! You’re not a REAL fan! You’ve come late to the party and are claiming it was yours the whole time. You didn’t live through it like we did – you don’t even know who anyone is!”

And yet I don’t. Who am I to deny someone the chance to love something I love? Even if it hurts to hear people mispronounce names or places, I don’t correct them like I would have 15 years ago. If you truly love something you need to let it go. So, I’m trying. I’m trying to accept that the thing I love has changed, and maybe? Maybe it’ll be okay… and if I’m lucky? Maybe better.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from Star Wars, it’s that good is stronger than evil.

Unless they change the underlying themes… but then, I guess I’ll have to wait to find out.

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683

The D-Cast Episode 53

Culture, Webseries

December 9, 2015

Andy and Dale return to the D-Cast to talk Star Wars, Star Wars, and a thing you may not have heard about called Star Wars. You can check out the latest episode of their podcast right here, right now. The video version is sure to follow.

podcastcover1

The D-Cast can be found by clicking their name, and you can chat with them on twitter, too.

And you can check them out on itunes. Awesome.

 

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720

The D-Cast Episode 52

Culture, Reviews, Videos, Webseries

December 2, 2015

Andy Herndon and Dale Wentland of the D-Cast jump from pure podcast to webisodes, starting now~! Join them for a weekly box office rundown, discussion on the Good Dinosaur, more Star Wars than you can shake a lightsabre at, and plenty more cool stuff on the greatness that mortal men call the D-Cast.

The D-Cast can be found by clicking their name, and you can chat with them on twitter, too.

And you can check them out on itunes. Awesome.

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433

Kessel Rundown: Star Wars Shattered Empire Episode 04

Culture, Reviews, Videos

November 23, 2015

Dale Wentland of the D-Cast is back, minus Aaron Golden, to take you on the magical journey that took us from Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens! And this? This right here? This is the epic conclusion. Life is good.

The Kessel Rundown is and can be found at:

Dale Wentland can be found on twitter or at the D-Cast.

Aaron Golden can be found on twitter. He also wrote an urban fantasy novel.

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463

Kessel Rundown: Star Wars Shattered Empire Episode 03

Culture, Reviews, Videos

November 23, 2015

Dale Wentland of the D-Cast is back, minus Aaron Golden, to take you on the magical journey that took us from Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens! There are two major character reveals in this issue, but not in the episode. The episode is just Dale, but you will love him. This is the Dale you love.

The Kessel Rundown is and can be found at:

Dale Wentland can be found on twitter or at the D-Cast.

Aaron Golden can be found on twitter. He also wrote an urban fantasy novel.

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679

Kessel Rundown: Star Wars Shattered Empire Episode 02

Culture, Reviews, Videos, Webseries

November 18, 2015

Dale Wentland of the D-Cast is back, minus Aaron Golden, to take you on the magical journey that took us from Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens! Don’t miss this!

The Kessel Rundown is and can be found at:

Dale Wentland can be found on twitter or at the D-Cast.

Aaron Golden can be found on twitter. He also wrote an urban fantasy novel.

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661

Kessel Rundown: Star Wars Shattered Empire Episode 01

Culture, Videos, Webseries

November 16, 2015

Dale Wentland of the D-Cast signs on without Aaron to discuss the wonder and majesty of Marvel’s Shattered Empire comics, what detail how we got from Episode VI to Episode VII. Are they any good, you ask? Yes. Yes, they are. How good? Well, you can give a listen right here:

The Kessel Rundown is and can be found at:

Dale Wentland can be found on twitter or at the D-Cast.

Aaron Golden can be found on twitter. He also wrote an urban fantasy novel.

 

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634

The Kessel Rundown Darth Vader Episode 6 – Nooooooooooooooooo!

Culture, Reviews, Videos

October 19, 2015

So many spoilers. So many. Which is what you get when you have a detailed conversation about the 2015 Marvel Star Wars comic series about the Baddest Sith in the Galaxy, Darth Vader. Yo. Here, Dale Wentland of the D-Cast and Aaron Golden of Living Myth Media talk the sixth issue of the series, which takes everything that’s been built til know and gives you one amazing pay-off. Do you want to know more? Click the video.

The Kessel Rundown is and can be found at:

Dale Wentland can be found on twitter or at the D-Cast.

Aaron Golden can be found on twitter. He also wrote an urban fantasy novel.

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