The Empire Strips Back, a Star Wars Burlesque Parody, Is Out of This World at Hollywood’s The Montalbán

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Credit: Craig Ridgwell/The Empire Strips Back

Star Wars is a popular sci-fi franchise that has given fans iconic characters like Darth Vader, Princess, Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, and C-3PO. Burlesque shows are known to feature scantily clad women as they striptease for the audience. What happens when they mix together? You get The Empire Strips Back, a Star Wars burlesque parody. There are not enough words to describe how sexy, entertaining, epic and hilarious this show is, and Star Wars fans have the show they’re looking for. The Empire Strips Back is the way.

This Star Wars show currently has performances in the heart of Hollywood at The Montalbán, and it has recently been extended until the end of December 2022. It has striptease, song and dance, troupe routines and comedy featuring sexy dancers dressed up as Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Twi-leks, Skywalker, and even C-3PO. What makes The Empire Strips Back really stand out from others is the size of the production, movie-quality props and costumes, special effects, and the mesmerizing group dance choreography. It is held inside a theater with a seating capacity of almost a thousand, and no matter where the guests are, they are in for a treat.

One act recreated Jabba the Hutt’s Palace with a life-size Jabba at the center, a bunch of his underlings to the side, Leia in her bikini costume, and even a puppet-controlled Salacious B. Crumb. It was a marvel to see all of this come together as the underlings do a troupe dance as Leia walks around a fully functional Jabba the Hutt complete with movements in the mouth, eyes, and hands.

Credit: Craig Ridgwell/The Empire Strips Back

Another act was an homage to the Luke Skywalker scene in The Empire Strikes Back with a female Luke riding on a lifesize, moving Tauntaun. The props and the puppetry are truly exceptional, and it adds that extra wow factor to excite the audience. There are lots of acts that do this with a Star Wars comical and fun twist. The dancers do get to rotate characters, so the shows will have a different flair each time guests attend.

Behind the spectacle is Russall S. Beattie, the creator who transports audiences to a galaxy far, far away. The concept first began in 2011 when he started the original production in a small, 150-seat room in Sydney, Australia, for a one-off, three-night run. It has since gained traction and has toured all around Australia and then in San Francisco, and now Los Angeles.

“We ended up taking a break from trying to break into the US market, like during COVID, and whatnot,” Beattie tells Nerd Reactor. “And then out of the blue, some producers contacted us and tried to come up with doing a different kind of style. Instead of just touring the show, like we usually have done, we’d actually do a bit more of a Broadway style where we sit down in cities for like three months and play. And that was something new for us because we’re more of a rock and roll kind of schedule… different town every night kind of thing.”

Credit: Craig Ridgwell/The Empire Strips Back

Beattie and his team tested in San Francisco earlier this year, and it was a success. They decided to bring it to LA and were able to secure The Montalbán. The team also decided to bring in local Los Angeles performers, especially since the city is known as one of the biggest entertainment capitals of the world.

“But this is a very amazing venue,” the creator added. “Just an amazing cast we’ve put together with locals because previously, the shows brought over the Australian dancers. But this show we focus on casting locals and yeah, we have some of the best we’ve ever had. It’s a new version of the show. Everything’s kind of bigger, more polished, more jokes. We’re really pushing and taking everything that’s worked in the last 10 years of us doing the show and putting it together as final form.”

The Empire Strips Back is focused on the Star Wars spectacle and gives mystery to the performers, especially since plenty wears masks or helmets like Darth Vader, C-3PO and the stormtroopers. This adds that extra immersion of being in a faraway and strange world.

“We don’t really give the impression that it’s like a burlesque company putting on a Star Wars show,” Beattie said. “We want to put on the impression that Star Wars was putting on a bit of a show. That’s the quality we want, the things we’ve focused on as the Star Wars element of it, and not so much the individual performance but the brand and the concept as a whole.”

You can get Los Angeles tickets at Fever. The show will be headed to San Diego starting on February 9, 2023. San Diego tickets are available here.

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