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Interview: Chatting With Russall S. Beattie On THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK At Montalban Theatre

The U.S. tour of the hit Star Wars burlesque parody The Empire Strips Back has begun previews at the Montalban, with opening night on November 30th

Interview: Chatting With Russall S. Beattie On THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK At Montalban Theatre

The U.S. tour of the hit Star Wars burlesque parody The Empire Strips Back has begun previews at the Montalban Theatre, with opening night on November 30, 2022. This unique show is best described by its creator Russall S. Beattie who let me beam into his creative brain a little.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Russall!

What was the original catalyst for your creation of The Empire Strips Back in 2011?

Honestly, it was just as a joke. At the time we were doing these super serious, more artistic type of shows. The idea was to do one-off joke style shows in-between seasons. Little did we know the joke show would become the main show.

When you were playing one-off, three-night runs, did you ever imagine it to morph into seven national sold-out Australian tours, and more recently a sold-out 2022 U.S. tour?

DInterview: Chatting With Russall S. Beattie On THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK At Montalban Theatre eep down I did think it would have the potential, just because of the early reaction to it. People just enjoyed having fun with the concept. That was very refreshing, to have an audience just open to have fun from the very moment the curtain went up.

How many performers and backstage crew do you tour with?

It varies depending on the version of the show, but generally around fourteen performers and six crew (who also sometimes end up on stage behind a mask). L.A. will be getting the biggest version of the show to date.

Do you try to attend all the cities Strips Back plays in? Or just a select few?

The show is kinda hardwired to my brain, so I attend and work pretty much every show at the moment. I think I've only missed maybe one or two shows out of thousands.

DInterview: Chatting With Russall S. Beattie On THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK At Montalban Theatre id you ever sneak into a burlesque show when you were a teenager?

Classic Burlesque had kinda died out and the revival hadn't started yet. So, I didn't catch my first burlesque show until I moved to London in 2003 at the infamous Whoopee Club. But I have a vivid memory from when I was maybe four or five years old that is burnt into my brain. My cousin Brent and I snuck down to where my uncles and the men gathered to see strippers hired for a party. I remember seeing a half-naked woman dancing who was lit only by a giant bonfire. The image will stay with me till I die and the power of it definitely made a big impact on me... well from what I saw till I got caught by my mom.

Burlesque today does not have the taboo stigma it used to have. What do you think changed society's perception of it?

Interview: Chatting With Russall S. Beattie On THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK At Montalban Theatre That movie with Cher and Christina Aguilera. I joke, but there is some seriousness in that. I think burlesque has become a little safer since the revival. More about the aesthetics than the art. So even though the stigma of it being a low brow entertainment art form might not be as strong, it has been replaced by other stigmas that hinder its growth as an art form.

Are all the major Star Wars characters portrayed in one form or another in Strips Back?

We can't do every character, but we cover all the major ones and plenty of minor roles. We have no shortage of storm troopers, aliens, droids and everything in between.

Are you an avid Star Wars fan?

I was born in the early 80's, so yes, it's very ingrained in my childhood. But I'm also a fan of everything. I love pop culture, so I'll take any chance to flex my nerd cred.

WInterview: Chatting With Russall S. Beattie On THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK At Montalban Theatre hat would your three-line pitch for The Empire Strips Back be?

This is not burlesque performers doing Star Wars.

This is Star Wars characters doing burlesque.

Combining the best things about being a kid with the best of things about being an adult

Would you recommend a non-Star Wars fan to catch one of the Star Wars films before attending Empire Strips Back?

We do recommend that you should see the original trilogy at least... they are great films.

But the show is designed that you can enjoy it even if you haven't seen any Star Wars. Just more fun if you have context.

As popular as your tour turned out, did you have to deal with any royalties or permissions? Or are parodies exempt?

These are not the droids you are looking for... Move on.

But seriously there are a lot of rules and legalities in doing a show like this. So short answer is ... Yes.

Interview: Chatting With Russall S. Beattie On THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK At Montalban Theatre Do you have a new show percolating in your creative brain?

Always. We have three that are ready to bring over. The Empire Strips Back is the Trojan horse for the rest of our productions.

What's in the near future for Russall S. Beattie?

I'm currently finishing post-production of a feature film I directed during COVID and I'm publishing the follow-ups to my book Gotham 1919-1939.

Thank you again, Russall! I look forward to exploring the far-out galaxies of Beattie.

For tickets to the live performances of The Empire Strips Back through January 1, 2023; click on the button below:



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