Sunday night I had the opportunity to attend Star Wars: In Concert, a Lucasfilm-sponsored video, lights and live orchestra celebration of John Williams' Star Wars score. After several stops across the country, it finally made its way to Chicago's United Center and now has just a few more U.S. dates before it heads to Europe in March. Since I know we have a bunch of Star Wars fans out there, I thought I'd share some of the highlights from the show for those who didn't get to catch it this year.
Before the concert began, I took in all of the displays that were set up around the perimeter of the arena. While nowhere near as extensive as Star Wars: The Exhibition (which I was also lucky enough to go to several years ago when it was in the Windy City), the collection that travels with this musical event was still pretty impressive. Here are just some of the displays — and yes, since it was established yesterday that I AM a cheeseball, it should come as no surprise I had to make corny poses next to most of the characters. You have no idea how many of those types pictures I'm choosing to leave out of this post.
But I wasn't the only one acting a fool. Though I did have on an awesome t-shirt purchased just for the occasion, I didn't totally geek-out and come in costume like some attendees (not that I'm ripping on them or anything — the kids were adorable, and there were many of them. It gives me hope for the newest generation of nerds!).
In addition to what I've included pictures of above, there were also displays for Darth Vader, Queen Amidala, Senator Palpatine and many lesser known (to a normal person) characters. They also had a few Ewoks, weapons and helmets in cases, as well as a music sheet from The Phantom Menace's score and several video stations set up that showed footage of how various effects were generated in the films. There were even some stormtroopers roaming around, wreaking havoc. One tried to arrest me — look, I have proof:
And they say they've tightened security… ha!
As the show's start time neared, I saw a guy scurrying around, handing out flyers for The Force Among Us, a documentary about Star Wars fandom that looks pretty good from the trailer I watched on its site. Then I got some food and noticed that there were a few special items on the menu for the event (click to enlarge if you can't make out the text).
Once everyone was settled in their seats, a wave of excitement swept through the crowd when the Star Wars logo flashed up on the huge LED screen (one of the biggest of its kind ever made for a stadium tour) and the orchestra kicked in with the instantly recognizable theme song. Unlike a normal concert where people might hold up lighters or PDA screens, this event brought fans wielding lightsabers, which glowed in support of the entertainment throughout the night.
And guess who was the master of ceremonies for the evening? None other than C-3P0 himself, Anthony Daniels. As one of only two castmembers who had a role in all six films (the other was Kenny Baker as R2-D2, naturally), as well as having the distinction of being the actor who spoke both the first and last lines of dialogue in the films (in the order they were released, that is) he was the perfect person to introduce segments that retold the tale of Anakin Skywalker's journey to the Dark Side… followed by his ultimate redemption.
Of his part in Star Wars: In Concert, Daniel says, "I did become, almost by default, the one person it made sense to have there as the figure … As with C-3PO, I share an ability of storytelling and a need to organize people, as the head of protocol and etiquette."
All in all, the experience was as wonderful and exhilarating as I hoped it would be — and that night it hit me just how powerful the franchise's music is. You just don't see a lot of strong film themes like Star Wars' anymore, kids. It's no wonder that John Williams is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' (you know, the Oscar folks) most nominated individual alive. For the tour, he handpicked Belgian conductor Dirk Brossé to lead the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in eighteen score selections from the six films.
I'll end this post with the trailer for Star Wars: In Concert, which will make any members of the Rebel Alliance who are reading this very sorry that they missed out. Try to make it next time the tour comes to the U.S. (Actually, do or do not, there is no try.)