First Night: Star Wars, A Musical Journey, O2 London


May the fortissimo be with you, always

The exploitation of the Star Wars franchise continues at light speed. The 1977 space adventure has already spawned two much-loved sequels and three derided prequels and having rung up more than $4bn in cinema box-office receipts, George Lucas – not content with an animated series, a plethora of secondary merchandise and a forthcoming TV show – is attempting to wow us with a musical show in concert halls across the globe. But unlike many of his other attempts, this show is rather enjoyable.

The world premiere of Star Wars: A Musical Journey is first and foremost a celebration of John Williams’ score. As the lights dimmed, the event started not with music from the movie, but the 20th Century Fox ditty that accompanies the studio logo before each movie. Then to audience cheers, the curtain dropped and the famous theme tune kicked in.

Behind the stage housing the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was a giant screen brought over from America. At a cost of $4m it is the biggest screen currently being used in Europe and the picture quality was suitably stunning. Across it was emblazoned the immortal opening text: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...”

This was followed by the first surprise, a montage sequence that started with an image of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: A New Hope and continued in the order that the films were released rather than starting with The Phantom Menace and moving in chronological plot order.

However this was not a veiled acceptance that the original trilogy is infinitely better than the prequel trilogy. Once the theme had finished being played, British actor Anthony Daniels who played robot C3PO, the only actor used in all six movies, walked on stage. Playing the musical accompaniment was the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (rather than the London Philharmonic, who recorded the original score), led by Belgian conductor Dirk Brosse.

On the first instrumental number the orchestra was shown playing on the giant screen. However once this courtesy was completed, it was images from the movie and Daniels’ narration that took centre stage.

Throughout the show there was a presumption that the audience knew all the characters (and for those few that did not, the light-sabre thin plot meant that it didn’t take much to work out what was going on).

Although the story was told chronologically, the action shown on screen was not. Lucas had broken up the story into the main themes, and so when Daniels talked of Clone Wars, Droids or Anakin Skywalker, images of these events or personages from all the films were collated together. Although they were like a series of movie trailers being playing alongside each other, it was far more enjoyable then having to watch any scene with Jar Jar Binks.

Daniels’ script had a good dose of comedy too. His ironic introduction of C3PO as a “masterpiece of engineering, an amazing droid” only came to a stop when conductor Brosse turned and looked at him in mock disgust. The audience were happy to contribute as well, with one especially droll cheer belted out when Daniels announced that Anakin had turned into Darth Vader. The loudest cheers were reserved for Han Solo and Yoda.

Fittingly, the evening ended with images of John Williams recording each of the six movie scores from 1977 to 2005. Meanwhile, Daniels played to the crowd, right to his final muttering of: “May the Force be with you, always.”

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk