Star Wars In Concert
October 7, 2009 - 8:00 p.m. PST
Nokia Theater - Los Angeles, California
Star Wars In Concert is a dazzling array of sights and sounds - an extravaganza for the senses, and it delivers the Star Wars saga like you've never seen or heard it before. It's a "must-attend" event for everyone from the casual fan to the most dedicated Star Wars enthusiast in the galaxy.
The evening started outside the Nokia Theater well over an hour before the doors opened (at 7:00 p.m.) with a very excited gathering of people clutching tickets in hand. Fans had a chance to buy Star Wars In Concert merchandise from several large displays, and vendors were selling a lavish, oversized program to commemorate the event ($30).
One of the first things I noticed was that the waiting crowd was comprised of people from ages three to ninety-three - everyone from elderly couples to working professionals to urban youth. The diversity drove home just how broad of an appeal Star Wars still maintains, reinforcing yet again its status as a global pop-cultural phenomenon. Of course there were plenty of people who had donned Jedi robes and were wielded lightsabers, and seemingly every child in attendance took the opportunity to wear their Star Wars Halloween costume a few weeks early.
Once the doors opened the crowd filed through security and into the tri-level lobby of the Nokia. They were greeted at every turn by stunning displays which featured original costumes from all six films in the saga. The ground floor (which is the main lobby), certainly delivered the most prominent displays including: Darth Vader, C-3PO, Chewbacca and Queen Amidala with two handmaidens. Pictures and flashbulbs popped at a mind-numbing rate, with every child's eyes as big as saucers at each display.
The loge lobby (second level) also had some terrific costume displays, including a Nemoidian soldier, and Imperial officer and a stunning pair of Ewoks located in a small alcove that was complete with an Endor backdrop.
Adjacent to the costume displays (with the exception of those in the main lobby), there were large monitors showing various making-of scenes and clips from the films which fans could soak in. Also, one of my favorite parts of the experience were large "action" backdrops featuring cool scenes from the films, which fans could stand in front of for pictures. Since these featured action scenes, fans could mimic the situation behind them and appear to be part of the action in their photos.
On the mezzanine lobby (third level), fans gawked at a Naboo Pilot display and one of Darth Sidious' many robes.
The third floor lobby was simply jammed with fans for another reason - members of the 501st Legion were out in full force, posing for picture after picture with fans young and old.
One very cool surprise was several Star Wars V.I.P’s roaming the lobby before the show. Among the celebs we glimpsed were Cat Taber and James Arnold Taylor – the voices of Padme Amidala and Obi-Wan Kenobi respectively in the ‘Star Wars The Clone Wars’ animated series – milling with fans and taking photos. Miss Taber even commented that she would certainly be attending the show both evenings it would be in Los Angeles.
As the show drew closer, fans took their seats inside the Nokia, which is a fantastic venue. With wide aisles and comfy seats, the arena was the perfect setting for Star Wars In Concert. A series of huge curtains draped the stage, lit with a cool purple glow.
Sound effects of pod racers and X-wing fighters from the arena's sound system occasionally made it feel as if they were zipping overhead. At one point, fans even were serenaded with five minutes of Jawas seemingly in a heated argument over their latest scavenger hunt.
As the crowd nestled in and some anxious moments passed, the arena went completely dark and then... as the anticipation grew to fever pitch and lightsabers (which were permitted into the event) lit up the inky darkness... the curtains began to part and those words that every Star Wars fan loves appeared on the massive LED screen... "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
The Star Wars In Concert symphony orchestra hit the first note of the Star Wars main title theme, the curtains dropped, lights of all colors dazzled the eye and the crowd went wild! The giant LED board began an opening montage of some of the most memorable shots from all six films, and every member in the audience had an irrepressible smile on their face. It was infectiously fun and a sensory sensation. During the opening number, the LED board also wove in some amazing shots of the actual members of the orchestra on stage, focused on playing their part with enthusiasm. Although he was not in attendance, somewhere John Williams must have been smiling!
(Image compliments of starwarsinconcert.com)
After the opening, the voice of none other than Darth Vader introduced the host of the evening’s affairs, C-3PO himself - Anthony Daniels. Daniels, dressed in a black suit with a sparkling gold vest (wink, wink), received thunderous applause and began the journey of leading the audience on a fantastic adventure through the Star Wars saga. Throughout the evening he delivered his narration with grace and vigor – a true showman. There were several comedic instances where he had the opportunity to prattle on about a certain golden droid… delighting the crowd with his Threepio-esque panache.
(Image compliments of starwarsinconcert.com)
The best part about the concert itself was that in the hands of conductor Dirk Brosse the music of John Williams was front and center. Instead of attempting to the merely re-tell the story of the films in a linear fashion, the music took us on our journey. Yes, we loosely followed the trajectory of the storyline in the six films, but the adventure was told in thematic “chapters” which delivered the true emotion of the saga.
Here’s a breakdown of the chapters/themes and the musical accompaniment:
- Chapter 1: “A Long Time Ago” - 20th Century Fox Fanfare/Star Wars Main Title Theme
- Chapter 2: “Dark Forces Conspire” - Duel of the Fates
- Chapter 3: “A Hero Rises” - Anakin's Theme
- Chapter 4: “A Fateful Love” - Across the Stars
- Chapter 5: “A Hero Falls” - Battle of the Heroes
- Chapter 6: “An Empire Is Forged” – Imperial March
- Chapter 7: “A Planet That Is Farthest From” - The Dune Sea of Tatooine
- Chapter 8: “An Unlikely Alliance” - Binary Sunset/Cantina Band
- Chapter 9: “A Defender Emerges” - Princess Leia's Theme
- Chapter 10: “A Daring Rescue” - Ben's Death/The Fighter Attack
- Chapter 11: “A Jedi Is Trained” - Yoda's Theme
- Chapter 12: “A Narrow Escape” - The Asteroid Field
- Chapter 13: “A Bond Unbroken” - Luke and Leia
- Chapter 14: “A Sanctuary Moon” - The Forest Battle
- Chapter 15: “A Life Redeemed” - Light of the Force
- Chapter 16: “A New Day Dawns” - Throne Room/Finale
- Chapter 17: “New Day Dawns” - Throne Room/Finale
The chapters are expertly women together and deliver both the louder moments and the softer ones – action packed thrills and love themes. But undoubtedly crowds will remember the cymbals crashing, the brass blaring and the strings burning. Not only did the symphony orchestra sound terrific, but the Star Wars In Concert choir also delivered a fantastic performance, especially for Duel of the Fates.
After a brief intermission mid-way through the show, there was also a tremendous laser light show employed for several chapters – the beams seemingly dancing to the music itself. Every detail was considered to wow the audience. For instance, during several chapters that featured scenes on Mustafar, spouts of pure fire erupted from the stage to the delight of the crowd!
As the show concluded, the audience rose to their feet with thunderous applause and Brosse, Daniels, the orchestra and choir enjoyed four rousing curtain calls! If anyone went home disappointed, they certainly didn’t see the same show I did. Of this you can be guaranteed: Star Wars In Concert will have you feel The Force like you never have before.
May the Force Be With You!