Star Wars In Concert

Time travel has long been a concept that has intrigued and eluded even the most scientific of minds.  It is an idea most often associated with fiction but may one day be based on fact.  The creative works of H.G. Wells and his fantastic time machine, Steven Spielberg’s DeLorean and, most recently, the therapeutic waters of a hot tub, time, and time travel, conjure images of near limitless possibilities.

Jumping back in time to right a wrong, change your past or corrupt with prejudice or to thrust forward in time to answer the simple question: what happens next; traveling through time is an ability best preserved for the imagination of children and not willful disregard of men in power.

Still, the ability to be swept back in time, emotionally, is not so unusual; nor is it only reserved for the next iteration of Star Trek movies (seriously, what was the last Star Trek movie that didn’t involve some time/space rift of some sort).

But the time travel I refer to doesn’t involve any moving parts or well-oiled machinery.  All that is required are ones memories and, more often than not, an unexpected shot of the human sense – be it smell, sight or sound.

On July 10, 2010 I was transported back in time to the summer of 1977 when I was a young boy of 6.  This act of time travel occurred while surrounded by hundreds of spectators in an auditorium filled to near capacity.  It happened when the first orchestral note was struck and a 3-story High Definition screen cut through the darkness with 2 words that have affected generations of fans:

Star Wars In Concert is a touring sight and sound spectacle that has, for reasons I can attest to, been receiving wonderfully rave reviews.  The iconic composition of the entire 6-film saga, originally composed by the legendary John Williams, was performed (flawlessly I might add) by a full symphony and choir.

Accented by an occasional laser light show the music, performed in chronological order of the saga, was seamlessly edited to play in synch with some of the most memorable scenes from the Star Wars movies.  These movie clips (some with audio dialogue) were beautifully displayed on an amazingly clear, 3-story tall High Definition screen.

The icing on this proverbial cake came in the form of none other than Anthony Daniels (C3PO to you non-Star Wars nerds out there).  Mr. Daniels’ experience as a London stage performer was evidenced by his grace and enunciation as he eloquently prefaced each symphonic story with a brief, storybook-like narration of the events and characters from the Star Wars universe.

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island most of your life the Star Wars epic should be intimately familiar to everyone reading this article; some, perhaps more so than others.  I grew up with Star Wars.  I was fortunate enough to see the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V & VI) in the theaters (some at a drive-in).  My childhood birthdays were filled with the latest and greatest Star Wars action figures, toys, posters and books.  At one point I even had a vinyl copy of The Empire Strikes Back.  The majority of my youthful collection has since been lovingly passed down to my son for his 5th birthday.  Still, after countless viewings of the Star Wars saga it wasn’t until the Star Wars In Concert experience that I truly understood and fully appreciated the John Williams’ compositions as stories in and of themselves.

Each of the main characters, some of the droids and even Han Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon, were provided their own musical score.  The notes played were the equivalent of the words used to tell that character’s story: tragic, adventurous or romantic.  They revealed an additional layer of the story’s complexity and stirred emotions in me that raised the hairs along my arms and plastered an uncontrollable smile on my face throughout the 2-hour performance.

It was these emotions that resulted in my euphoric travels back in time.  My childhood memories were shocked awake from their long slumber and I was instantly transported to a theater in Fond du Lac, WI during the summer of 1977.  I was vacationing with my family.  We were renting a cottage on Lake Winnebago.  After several parental debates about the appropriateness of my attending the matinee showing of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope I found myself wedged in- between my mother and a close family friend.  The theater lights dimmed, A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away . . . appeared briefly on the screen only to be replaced by the main title accompanied by that now iconic musical score.

Star Wars In Concert was a wonderful event and I was fortunate enough to share this experience with my now 10-year-old son who was just as enthusiastic.  Perhaps it was the awe and wonder of seeing Star Wars on a giant screen.  Maybe he was still riding the high from getting up close and personal with some of the authentic props and costumes on display in the auditorium’s lobby.  I was expecting some sort of display.  A few movie posters or hired actors dressed up in various Star Wars costumes.  What we were given was so much more:

Star Wars In Concert won’t be touring forever.  The schedule appears to be very much limited from one city to the next.  Milwaukee, WI was only provided with 2 showings for the same day.  It’s quite possible larger cities may be allotted a greater number of showings while other cities might be skipped over entirely.  My point being, if you have an opportunity to participate in this experience – with a friend, family member or child of your own – take it!  Do not let this concert pass you by.  It was the most entertaining event of the past few years and is one that I anticipate will resonate with me for many years to come.

Written by Bill Braun

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