Getting on Board with Geekenders Star Wars Burlesque Show, a Review

3 Mar

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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Disclaimer: Thanks to the Gottacon organizers for providing a pass to the opening night celebration. This article is part one of two pieces, also published on Absoluteunderground.tv, with an interview with Geekenders to be featured in the next issue of Absolute Underground Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

There’s a new kind of adult entertainment in town, and that’s to combine burlesque with geek culture to form nerdlesque. This new form of dancing is taking the world by storm with local groups from Australia to New York reinventing all that was beloved from a long time ago. Instead of a galaxy, far, far away, everything is happening locally. Geekenders is a Vancouver, BC based group that formed in 2012 to give to the masses unique takes on popular franchise titles like Douglas AdamsHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, BBC’s Doctor Who and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. On Friday night at GottaCon, a Victoria based gaming convention, this group put on a rousing fun act in Star Wars: A Nude Hope.


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Director Fairlith Harvey (who plays Princess Leia) noted that George Lucas may have had issues when he first wrote this seminal movie that kickstarted the box-office bonanza. Its lasting influence created computer games, role-playing games and miniature tactical games to which is apropos for a convention that looks at a variety of gaming products under one roof. The film is ripe with imagery that can be reinterpreted in other ways. As a stage show, anything that can happen will happen and explode into a frenzy of delight to many a fan who’s already familiar about the coming of age tale of a young lad, Luke Skywalker (Draco Muff-Boi), learning how to deal with a larger galaxy that’s at war. Just what he becomes will determine more than just the fates of a few people, but instead fuel the hopes of many.

Curiosity seekers will find enjoyment out of this stage-show. As a burlesque show, audiences will no doubt want to quote-along or cajole more action to happen on stage. The hoot and hollers are well-earned. For example, The Cantina scene is completely reimagined to feature Chewbacca (Jessica Mayhew — no relation to Peter) doing a chair dance and she is certainly very fetching in this moment.

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Stephan Blakley (Han Solo) certainly can dance with his comrade-in-arms and some may wonder just how far this bromance goes. Brian Milne (Obi-Wan Kenobi) lovingly demonstrates more than just a charm of two handsome leading males — Ewan McGregor and Sir Alec Guinness — from the films when he woos the Stormtrooper ladies on stage. Comic timing is important, and he nails it. Even Rael Winford (Grand Moff Tarkin) has the right debonair attitude that observers on stage can spot in his role as the administrator of the Empire.

Musically, Sex Bob-Omb’s “Garbage Truck” is used in the famous Trash Compactor scene and The Carpenters‘ “Top of the World” is used to introduce Luke Skywalker to the crowd. This gender bending role is really appropriate when the Trench scene becomes a moment of sexual awakening for this character.

This skill in modifying the screenplay certainly shows that Harvey knows her material very intimately and to wonder what the other two shows, The Empire Strips Back and Reveal of the Jedi, are like will get some instant fans wanting to seek this group’s work out. The Geekenders is a touring entertainment group, and perhaps more conventions will be in store for them as word spreads about what additional kinds of shows they perform. On Saturday, they put on a musical based on the video-game, Portal 2. While not everyone will be familiar with every riff they make in the world of pop or gaming culture, at least some shows will be better known than others.

In the meantime, heading to Vancouver, BC is a must for more than just a Fan Expo or Supernatural Convention but for celebrating all that’s geek at the Rio Theatre, where they regularly perform.

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