A not so long time ago in a downtown not far away ... the Fox Theater announced plans for the performance of a show heretofore never seen in Bakersfield: a burlesque parody of the "Star Wars" universe.
On Saturday, “The Empire Strips Back” makes its local debut, putting to rest any questions of if there's more to the Boba Fett/Han Solo relationship than we saw up on the big screen.
Created in Australia by Russall Beattie, the show made a splash last year in its West Coast debut and returns for a tour covering the United States and Canada.
For those who fear the show is going to ruin their childhood, sullying the droids you've been looking for with disturbing sexual overtones, Beattie says it's not as bad as you think.
"It’s more conceptually racy rather than actually gratuitous," he said. "People think it's more risque, but you’d see more at the beach. We frame it in a way more theatrical and engaging. It's sexy without being sexual."
Despite a trio of trilogies currently in the "Star Wars" universe, "Empire" focuses on the original (Episodes IV-VI), with Beattie noting that is "the trilogy that doesn't divide fans."
"It's a show about coming together and celebrating 'Star Wars.'"
And performers in this do come together in a mix of classic and current rock, hip hop and garage music. Whether it's twi'leks dancing in a close embrace, the real message that Princess Leia is entrusting to R2D2 or Luke sexily scrubbing down her — this character, like many in the show, is played by a woman — landspeeder, there's a lot to unpack.
But that's part of the fun, Beattie said.
"It's two hours of pure escapism. Leave your worries at the the door and fall into the world of 'Star Wars.'"
The creator also notes that if you look past the performers, there are a number of impressive set pieces, including life-size Jabba the Hutt and tauntaun and Han Solo released from carbonite. Some of the films' original craftsmen helped with the designs, Beattie said.
Expect Chewbacca, Yoda, Stormtroopers and the rest of the gang in an adventure you may have never imagined.
And lest you think the theater will be packed with fanboys looking for some wardrobe malfunctions on a Stormtrooper, Beattie said the show's audiences average about 60 percent women, with a lot of couples in attendance. He noted that many senior groups have seen the show (although that's not likely to be the case in Bakersfield).
And if you truly want to embrace the fantasy, opt for the VIP ticket ($145), a meet and greet package that includes a reserved seat in the first 10 rows, commemorative ticket, cast members' meet and greet after the show as well as a personal photo with the performers, tour poster autographed by the cast, collectible "The Empire Strips Back" challenge coin, official laminate and on-site VIP host.