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Star Wars In Concert Review

Posted By Dustin on May 22, 2010

The following review of Star Wars In Concert is by Fan of TheForce.net, Jim Carchidi.

It's hard to recall life before Star Wars. Not so much because Star Wars has been there since birth (I'm 41), but because life was pretty boring before watching the hulking mass of an Imperial Star Destroyer engulf a movie screen.

Before hearing the spine-melting respirator of a Sith Lord as he emerged from shadow and smoke. And before hearing a quiet theater suddenly burst alive with cymbals, horns and applause as the overture of-overtures played itself into our collective DNA.

As iconic as the costumes, characters and quotes have become, they are all framed by the music. Scores that compliment, punctuate and blend the worlds, timelines and personalities that make up the Star Wars Saga. Star Wars In Concert is culmination of six films worth of the classical music pieces that have been the backdrop to many a childhood and, in my case, served as an introduction to the world of classical music.



On Saturday, May 15th, the Amway Arena in Orlando, FL played host to the spectacle of Star Wars In Concert - only the second of fifty cities in the North American leg of the tour. As with everything Star Wars, the fans were there... in Force (obligatory reference, but still true). Members of the Florida 501st Garrison and Rebel Legion, decked out in their best armor, pilot suits and Jedi robes, patiently appeased lines of photograph, and autograph, seekers. (Seriously, if Boba Fett signs his name in your book you don't ask to see proof of ID.)



As Rebels and Imperials patrolled the mezzanine, selections from the Lucasfilm Archives awaited inspection in an exhibit befitting a saga that spanned thirty years. Production drawings, prop weapons, armor and costumes lined the hallway and brought the crowd to a spellbound halt. Generations of fans gazed through protective cases to examine Chewbacca's fur and Darth Vader's armor.





As the masses slowly filed past the eye candy, the auditorium began to fill. With the elaborate stage design cutting the usual arena length nearly in half, there wasn't a bad seat in the house. The massive projection screens that hung above the orchestra made quite an impression, even with the house lights on. The energy and anticipation, that usually accompanies the opening of a movie you've waited years to see, hung heavy in the air. Only in concert venues and movie theaters is darkness greeted with applause. A familiar drum and cymbal medley quickly followed as the orchestra began the show in grand Star Wars style... with the 20th Century Fox fanfare. The darkened screen suddenly backdropped the familiar blue letters that are the expected calm before the Star Wars storm, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."

Goosebump time.

The cymbals crashed, the horns sounded and the crowd erupted as the Main Title theme began. Highlights from the saga played on the massive screen. Scenes from the original trilogy were matched with those of the prequels, forming a tapestry of visuals that spanned all six films. Similar visual delights accompanied each arrangement in the performance, in addition to live video of the orchestra.



For the production, arrangements from throughout the saga (often evoking a similar tone and feeling) are grouped into segments that highlight a linear telling of the Star Wars Saga and the story of Anakin Skywalker, told in person by the voice of See-Threepio, Anthony Daniels. In between each musical segment, Daniels takes the stage to summarize the progression of Anakin's story and that of his children, Luke and Leia, and their respective struggles within both the failing Republic and corrupt Empire. Daniels' dramatic, and sometimes funny, telling of key points in the saga was a personal touch that connected with the audience and juxtaposed well with the music and visuals.




The two hour symphonic experience is richly appointed with all the spectacle and awe that is synonymous with Star Wars, yet it remains an exercise in music appreciation. The sound is not piped in, it is live and right in front of you. A choir of sixty voices, singing with the orchestra, elevates the drama of Duel of the Fates and Anakin vs. Obi Wan beyond the capability of any sound system. A moving, crane mounted camera, captures the orchestra and conductor, Lucas Richman, as they work together. Details such as the xylophone notes during the Imperial March are shown as they are played, exemplifying the depth of the musical arrangement and the performance. For all the technical advances that have helped tell the Star Wars Saga, the act of playing an instrument is one of the most enduring and poignant parts of the whole.



For the production, arrangements from throughout the saga (often evoking a similar tone and feeling) are grouped into segments that highlight a linear telling of the Star Wars Saga and the story of Anakin Skywalker, told in person by the voice of See-Threepio, Anthony Daniels. In between each musical segment, Daniels takes the stage to summarize the progression of Anakin's story and that of his children, Luke and Leia, and their respective struggles within both the failing Republic and corrupt Empire. Daniels' dramatic, and sometimes funny, telling of key points in the saga was a personal touch that connected with the audience and juxtaposed well with the music and visuals.

The thunderous applause that helped open the performance, replayed at the finale - only louder. Daniels, Richman and the orchestra took turns accepting the adulation. Then, another treat.



"You don't look like you're ready to go home," exclaimed Daniels. And with that, he introduced an encore of The Imperial March.

Cue more thunderous applause.

After more than 30 years of Star Wars, one truth holds constant: Just when you think The Saga can't outdo itself or that the legend can't get any bigger, something more amazing comes along. This time, it's Star Wars In Concert.

- Jim Carchidi


Related Stories

June 6, 2011   John Williams Conducts SW In Concert
March 12, 2011   Star Wars In Concert Back To Hollywood Bowl
March 2, 2011   Star Wars In Concert Back To Hollywood Bowl
June 16, 2010   More SW In Concert Images At SW.com
June 8, 2010   More SW In Concert Images At SW.com
June 2, 2010   SW In Concert: LA, KS, TX, NV & AZ
December 9, 2009   Star Wars In Concert - Backstage Pass
November 21, 2009   Star Wars In Concert Review
September 29, 2009   Star Wars In Concert Dates Coming





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