Theatre | Making space for sexy

UNLEASH YOUR INNER WOOKIEE: The Empire Strips Back: A Star Wars Burlesque Parody is returning to Newcastle.
UNLEASH YOUR INNER WOOKIEE: The Empire Strips Back: A Star Wars Burlesque Parody is returning to Newcastle.

HUNTER audiences will have the chance to see two shows in early February that have played to packed house around Australia: The Empire Strips Back: A Star Wars Burlesque Parody and The Diamonds.

The Empire Strips Back can be seen at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on Saturday, February 3, and The Diamonds at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on Friday, February 9.

The Empire Strips Back is a very tongue-in-cheek look at the popular Star Wars films, with sexual references in the songs and actions that make it a show for people aged 18 and over. And The Diamonds has three renowned female singers who have performed internationally paying tribute to the women whose songs went to the top of hit parades globally over the past 50 years, among them Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Dusty Springfield, The Supremes, Gloria Gaynor, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Beyonce and Lady Gaga.

The Empire Strips Back was originally staged by creative director Russall S. Beattie for three performances in a small Sydney venue in 2011. It sold out weeks before opening, so Beattie redeveloped it for presenting in larger theatres. And it began touring in 2012, with the Newcastle Civic Theatre among the venues.

The show’s popularity has seen the show continue to tour. The Civic show will mark the fifth time the burlesque parody has been there, with many Star Wars fans and people who find it colourfully entertaining returning when it’s in the venue. The show will head overseas for an international tour after shows in Canberra, Newcastle, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

A 2016 online story about the show by an American newspaper was seen by more than 20million people globally, leading to calls for it to tour globally. And the show has generated a series of T-shirts and a book called Wookieerotica, which looks like a 1970s style men's magazine, and parodies the Star Wars characters and stories. Beattie and his team have made changes to the show each time it tours. Its last appearance at the Civic was in February, 2017, and included amusing references to the latest Stars Wars films.

The Empire Strips Back  has 22 cast members who wear hundreds of costumes during the performances, and a large number of puppet characters. There are background hip and rock songs, with some seriously sexy Stormtroopers, male and female, among the ensemble characters. The other characters include some tantalising Twi'leks, an amusingly luke-warm Taun Taun, a lady-like Skywalker, and Droids who keep their eyes on the watchers.

The Empire Strips Back can be seen at 8pm on February 3. All tickets are $51. Bookings: 4929 1977.