"Star Wars in Concert" is an epic multimedia Star Wars experience. Hosted by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and conducted by Dirk Brossé, the performance features the music of John Williams set to scenes from the Star Wars films on the big screen, as well as an exhibit of original props and costumes.
A Musical Journey
The epic musical journey of "Star Wars in Concert" begins with the classic THX sound effect -- you know, the one that always burst our eardrums as we frantically turned down the volume after we put in a Star Wars film. (Oh, the childhood memories.) A live rendition of the classic 20th Century Fox fanfare and the opening Star Wars theme immediately follows.
Hearing John Williams' Star Wars music live in concert would have been an exciting and wonderful experience even without the dramatic big-screen video and light show. Williams -- winner of five Academy Awards, four Golden Globes and numerous other honors -- is one of the best movie music composers around. His score for Star Wars not only adds to the epic atmosphere of the films, but is fantastic music in its own right.
Williams used Wagner's leitmotif technique to compose music for the Star Wars saga, associating each theme with a particular character or idea. The concert program took advantage of this organization, going through each of the main characters' themes in roughly chronological order.
An Enthusiastic Host
Our host for "Star Wars in Concert" is none other than Anthony Daniels, who introduces each piece and neatly sums up the story of the Star Wars saga. Daniels is distinguished among Star Wars actors for not only being one of two actors to appear in all six Star Wars films, but the only actor to play his character in every radio drama adaptation of the Original Trilogy and every Star Wars television series in which the character has appeared -- so far, Star Wars: Droids and The Clone Wars. A bit of trivia, perhaps, but it demonstrates how solidly identified Daniel is not only with C-3PO, but Star Wars as a whole.
Daniels is a delightful and enthusiastically hammy host, not only playing it up for the audience but interacting a bit with the conductor and orchestra. Although he hosts as himself and not his character, the audience went wild when he revealed a gold vest under his suit, assumed the classic C-3PO pose, and repeated a classic line from The Empire Strikes Back. He sounded more like he was imitating C-3PO than playing him, which only added to the humor of the situation.
A Multimedia Experience
While it was great to see Star Wars clips on the big screen, the video and light show occasionally distracted from the experience of the music. Many of the movie scenes included random bits of dialogue. This would have been fine, except that -- probably due to the acoustics of the venue -- the balance seemed way off, with the sound from the movie clips loud enough to nearly drown out the orchestra. The balance issues were also a problem for the chorus, whose beautifully chilling part in "Duel of the Fates" was barely audible.
"Star Wars in Concert" also loses points for not giving the audience any warning about the brief strobe light effects used in the second half of the program. Strobe lights can have dangerous health effects for people who are sensitive, and are bothersome even for people who aren't. There's really no excuse for not making some kind of announcement, or even just taping signs on the door.
For the most part, though, the multimedia experience built up the epic feel of the concert. Hearing the music paired with clips from the movies -- as well as the occasional still image and concept drawing -- helped the audience immerse ourselves in the Star Wars musical experience.
The program for "Star Wars in Concert" features the main themes from all six Star Wars films:
Star Wars Main Title
Duel of the Fates
The Flag Parade
Across the Stars
Battle of the Heroes
The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)
The Asteroid Field
Princess Leia's Theme
Tales of a Jedi Knight
TIE Fighter Attack
Luke and Leia
The Forest Battle
Light of the Force
Throne Room/End titles
Encore: Imperial March
While the second half of the program is a bit choppier than the first -- the pieces are shorter, and it's hard to measure up to "Duel of the Fates" in terms of excitement and epic scale -- the concert as a whole highlights the best, most memorable pieces of Star Wars music with a wonderfully energetic performance. "Star Wars in Concert" won't be on tour for much longer, so it's definitely not something a Star Wars fan should pass up.