Princess Leia. What a babe. When I was little- I'm talking toddler, here- I didn't just idolize her. I WAS her. If you can relate, then consider spending a Saturday at Gorilla Tango Theatre for A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque.
Yes, Star Wars burlesque. The moment I heard, I had to know more. I got to sit down with Director Timothy Bambara, Choreographer Rachel Singer, and the sexiest C-3Po of all time, Stella Cheeks (Alexis Meuche). We chatted not only about the Episode IV parody, but also LEGO bricks, Jack Harkness, and the difference between nerd, geek, and dork (the battle rages).
First, we got nostalgic. "When you’re a kid," Tim says, " it’s very simple... Blue’s good, red’s bad. One of my first playmates- we would always just have light saber battles with foam tubes. I’d never experienced Star Wars as an adult. I never went to the movies in 1977. I never got the sex appeal, really… I was a little kid, and didn't see Princess Leia in a gold bikini. I saw Princess Leia as, 'Oh, that’s the princess, you have to save her!'"
So the question was, "How do you go about making this a sexy show, and approaching it through new eyes?" This is how:
The cast is diverse. Some are experienced burlesque dancers (Diva la Vida, Cinnamon Twist) or Shakespeare veterans, while others are enjoying their very first time on stage. A Nude Hope's characters are a riot: female versions of Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as a glammed up laundry hamper... with boobs. C-3PO is billed as an "anti-Tony Daniels... more Russel Brandt."
At one point, the production wrestled with music choices. No one wants to invoke the wrath of George Lucas. The solution? "Go all the way back to 1977," says Tim. The show features hits from The Village People, Donna Summer, and more. Rachel, who boasts a massive dance arsenal, asked, "What kind of dance would this character be doing? Are they old? Are they young? What would you expect from a Jawa?" Inspired by the lyrics of the 70s, she is "able to tell a story through dance." ...I was promised "awkward robot strips."
Speaking of strips, the people behind A Nude Hope were quick to differentiate themselves from other sexy avenues. Tim explains, "It’s much more the experience of going to see a sketch group perform, which happens to have dance elements." ...and this show's got plot. Most burlesque shows feature mini vignettes for each performer. A Nude Hope, however, can thank Mary Catherine Curran for an overarching tale. "I’m not sure if there’s anyone else in the country doing what we’re doing," Tim smiles.
If YOU want to try burlesque, Alexis has some advice for you: "God, just do it. What’s the worst that could happen? The worst that could happen is that nothing happens, and nothing sucks. You go in, you make a complete ass of yourself, you don’t get cast, or you have a bad experience… but you still have an experience that you didn’t have before, and you grow and learn from experiences. OR, you go in and you have a kickass time and it was fun and you get cast. There’s no downside to that." She wore boys' Spiderman underwear to her audition.
I also made sure to talk to these geeks about their lives around Chicago. Alexis enjoys seeing punk shows, and is looking for a new D&D game to join. She frequents conventions like Dragon*Con, and you can catch her this year at TeslaCon, Wizard World, and Chicago TARDIS. Timothy is training for a half-marathon, and is having a Chicago-centric summer at street festivals and improv shows. Rachel joins her arts community for potlucks and cabarets. She also introduced me to SF0, which I will write about in detail later.
So, bottom line? I'll be going to A Nude Hope this Saturday, the 9th at 9:30 PM... that is, after I move into my new apartment. (It's Geek Girl CHICAGO, not Geek Girl Des Plaines!) If you make it out some weekend, the performers want to meet you- Stella Cheeks says so. You owe it to your childhood Princess Leia.
PS... Stay tuned for BOOBS OF KHAN.