THE DARK SIDE: Stormtroopers and (inset) a different Darth Vader performing in the Star Wars burlesque parody Empire Strips Back.
THE DARK SIDE: Stormtroopers and (inset) a different Darth Vader performing in the Star Wars burlesque parody Empire Strips Back. Contributed

Have a good laugh, you will

A LONG time ago in a galaxy far, far away a Sydney-based creative director took his passion for Star Wars and turned it into a sell-out burlesque parody.

In 2011, Russall Beattie wanted to bring something new and exciting to the small venue he owns in Sydney called the Vanguard.

"The good thing is when you own a venue you have to always put a show on," he said.

"Star Wars burlesque had been in my head for a while.

"So we decided to try it for a couple of nights to see if it would be successful."

Clearly the force was with Beattie because the show was a massive hit, selling out his 150 capacity venue many times over.

"It had a very small budget but sold out really quickly," he said.

"We didn't even need to advertise."

One hundred shows later, Beattie decided it was time to "reimagine" the show from scratch and its new incarnation, The Empire Strips Back, was born.

"We destroyed and recreated all the props and costumes," he said.

"I wanted to make the ultimate version of that show.

"I pay my friends to dress up in costumes - and some of them take them off."

Beattie said the first 100 shows taught him a lot.

"I learnt that the closer you can get to the source material with costumes and props, the less of a leap for the audience it is to jump on board," he said.

"But if they're sitting there thinking the character sort of looks like Jabba the Hutt, then they will not be immersed in the world."

Beattie's Jabba the Hutt is a fully operational puppet.

"His eyes blink, his arms move and his tongue comes out and licks Princess Leia," he said, laughing.

"Trying to create Yoda was a challenge and working out how to present that was also a blast."

Beattie said the show was not driven by a narrative as such but inspired by vaudeville acts of old.

"We take certain scenes and characters from the films that everyone kind of recognises," he said.

"Whether it's Han being trapped in carbonite or Han cutting open a hole in the belly of a Tonton to keep Luke warm.

"We recreate those moments but put our unique spin on it."

Beattie said he tried very hard to balance the parody, burlesque and source material element of the show.

"It's two hours of pure fun and escapism," he said.

"That is what the films hit the nail on the head with and that is what we tried to recapture."

The gig

Where: Moncrieff Theatre

When: Friday, April 4, 2014 at 8pm

Cost: $58.50 per person

The show is rated R18+