Review: THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK is the Show You Didn't Know You Needed to See

Don’t get left out in the cold – saddle up your tauntaun and gallop over to the Kailash Mital Theatre to see The Empire Strips Back before it leaves the galaxy!

By: May. 16, 2024
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The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody indicates in no uncertain terms that it is unaffiliated with Disney, Lucasfilm, or anything that can even be remotely considered an official endorsement. These disclaimers are clearly designed to protect its brainchild, Russell S. Beattie, from accusations of copyright infringement and liability, and the truth is that Disney et al would never endorse this show in a billion lightyears. If The Empire Strips Back was actually licensed, it couldn’t be as unabashedly audacious as it is. Pushing the envelope is what makes the show so good, both for die-hard Star Wars geeks and burlesque fans alike.

The Los Angeles Cast of The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody. Photo by Craig Ridgwell.
The Los Angeles Cast of The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody. Photo by Craig Ridgwell.

That being said, audiences who are fans of Star Wars will undoubtedly get more out of the show than pure burlesque fans, but the dancing is very good. The largely Canadian cast is comprised of professionally trained dancers, many of whom have performed with sports teams, including the Toronto Argonauts, the Toronto Raptors, and The Phoenix Suns. The athleticism required to perform at that level was on full display on opening night.

Hosted by Montreal-based stand-up comic, Pantelis, the show moved at a good pace. As sets were changed behind the scenes, Pantelis kept the crowd entertained with back and forth banter, capitalizing on the nerdiness of sci-fi fans. The Ottawa audience was surprisingly raucous for a Wednesday night (or any night, really) and it was obvious that everyone was having a fantastic time.

The music is an eclectic mix of genres, from pop, to rock, to hip hop and this showcases the versatility of the dancers. The lighting is the hidden star of the show; the music, choreography and lights are all impressively in sync. The costumes are out of this world (see what I did there?) – no expense has been spared, and the result is simply incredible. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to spoil anything; the surprise is half the fun. Suffice it to say that you will be just as wowed by the costumes and props as you are by the dancers.

The Los Angeles Cast of The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody. Photo by Craig Ridgwell.
The Los Angeles Cast of The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody. Photo by Craig Ridgwell.

The general admission by zone seating was a little chaotic, so you may want to arrive a bit early (but not too early, as there is no bar or concessions, save for vending machines). The show’s opening number set the tone for the night and from there, it was just a rollicking good time. If you love Star Wars or burlesque – or, even better, both – I cannot recommend The Empire Strips Back enough.

Don’t get left out in the cold – saddle up your tauntaun and gallop over to the Kailash Mital Theatre to see The Empire Strips Back before it leaves the galaxy on May 31st! Click here for more information or click the link below to buy tickets.




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