By Christopher Erickson
The Lamplighters Music Theater company continued their Annual Gala fundraiser tradition in 2015 of combining Gilbert and Sullivan style musicals with pop culture parody. This year was a send up of the (at the time) upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The gala was held on November 8, 2015 at the Mountain View Center for Performing arts and on November 15, 2015 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.
This year’s gala featured a framing device where a grandfather was telling his grandchildren about the story of the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” movie. The grandchildren were unfortunately Gilbert and Sullivan fans, so he framed the story using elements similar to musicals written by the famous duo, such as Princess Ida.
The music followed the story faithfully but threw in a number of jokes including the names of the characters (Luke Moonwalker, Juan Solo, Poohbacca and Deadeye Knights Obi-bun Thornobi and Yo-Yo Da), references to specific Gilbert and Sullivan plot points (like when Juan Solo says that he was apprenticed as a pilot instead of a pirate and a pirate appears on stage), and pun names of companies that are in food court of the Death Star (like Hoth Dog on a Bun). They also provided jokes about cell phone updates, Disney’s acquisition of the “Star Wars” franchise and the drought in California.
The musical numbers were written by the cast providing new lyrics for the play based on existing the existing Gilbert and Sullivan song cannon. This continues a tradition that the theater company has done of creating new songs lyrics for their parodies including “Sherlock Who?,” “Star Drek: The Generation After That,” “Lord of the Things” and “Harry Patter and the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.”
The production values were very high as they had amazing sets, costumes and props. The droids and Yo-Yo Da were done with body paint to make them look like the original characters. The Darth Vader character was spot on. The company even made X-Wing vehicles for the bombing run of the Death Star that were worthy of a comic-book convention.
After the show, the cast met audience members in the lobby for champagne and refreshements. There was also a silent auction during the play including an opportunity to be on stage.
The show was lively and people laughed at the jokes. The show was a lot of fun and continued their annual fundraisers providing a mix of pop culture and traditional musical theater.