Review: Star Wars - A Musical Journey
Star Wars: A Musical Journey
The O2 arena
"This was Star Wars as pantomime. This was playing to the gallery. This is Star Wars the way the fans love it."
- In the thrill rides in the studio complexes of tourist Florida you can interact with the iconography of the blockbusters.
Ride a DeLorean through time! Journey through Jurassic Park! Fly ET home on a bike!
What's missing from these experiences is, of course, the movies. It's like eating a jam sandwich without the bread.
But, hey, jam's pretty good. Have you ever dunked your finger in the jar and tasted just jam?
S-w-e-e-t, as Homer would say.
And so it is with Star Wars: A Musical Journey.
Primarily it was a celebration of John Williams' magisterial score (which must have bemused the under-10s who turned up with their light sabres and painted faces expecting Star Wars: The Musical).
And, indeed, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and choir's rousing renditions alone would be enough to stir the heart. But there was more.
There were Imperial Stormtroopers near the ticket desk. Jedi Knights in the auditorium. Gold Leader taking five.
In the background, there was a monster screen with crystal clear pictures playing clips from the films, which despite everything - by which I mean the dialogue, the dull stratagems of the Trade Federation and Jar Jar Binks - still had the power to enthral and delight three decades on.
And there was Anthony Daniels - who played C3PO - narrating in the broadest terms and with Shakespearian grandeur - the thrust of the six-piece masterwork cueing up neatly edited MTV SW lite bites that distilled the story into themed compilations of character or action.
He was playing to the crowd - the thirty- and forty-somethings for whom life only truly began when a fleeing Rebel Blockade Runner, firing lasers from its rear, is dwarfed by an Imperial Stardestroyer filling the screen, the skyscape, and a million textbook margins.
As the jaunty pipes took on the tunes of the cantina band, the true followers - all nine years old once again - mouthed the words like supplicants. "Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."
At one point, the impeccable Daniels flung open his jacket to reveal a metallic looking waistcoat and fell into character to set the scene for the next segment: "Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to one."
Everyone cheered. Star Wars heaven. We cheered again when we heard the first asthmatic breath of the Dark Lord of the Sith. We aahed at the death of Yoda. We booed the Emperor and his nefarious plotting. We laughed when Princess Leia told Han: "I love you" and the old rascal replied: "I know." That old rascal.
This was Star Wars as pantomime. This was playing to the gallery. This is Star Wars the way the fans love it - celebrated and venerated yet undercut with humour and a playful deflation of its pomposities.
Over the years, George Lucas has sliced and diced and sold his creation with alarming disregard for its sacred state among the faithful.
But this was one of its better incarnations - stirring stuff, and fun.