A long time ago, in a Globe Theatre far away…
Well, actually, next Monday at Mid-City Theatre on Toulouse Street at 7:30 p.m.
It’s Ian Doescher’s “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope!”
The Bard and the sci-fi blockbuster seem a logical combination. After all, both share a love of sweeping epic, complex relations between fathers and sons, and heightened stakes accentuated by heightened language.
So when actor/producer Joe Seibert became aware of Doescher’s genre-busting novel, he set off immediately to Barnes and Noble in search of a copy.
It’s not often a theater geek can combine his love of Shakespeare and “Star Wars.”
“Verily, A New Hope” is indicative of the spike in interest around the beloved franchise, since its creator George Lucas handed the reins over to sci-fi impresario J.J. Abrams for three new films in the ongoing space opera.
Doescher’s book re-imagines the 1977 cultural phenomenon as an Elizabethan blank verse drama, and it answers the nagging question of what “Star Wars” would be like if it were written 400 years ago by the greatest dramatist in the English language.
“I mean, how often do you get a chance to do two things you love into one evening?” said Siebert. “I read Doescher’s play and decided immediately that I wanted to do it. I put out the word to see if anyone was interested in helping out.
“Why wouldn’t someone want to do Han Solo in iambic pentameter?”
Seibert didn’t have to wait long. In a matter of parsecs, Mid City Theatre’s producer Fred Nuccio offered his space and his services, and local actors from across the city threw themselves into the project.
“Under the Boardwalk” star and creator Rich Arnold will pout and dream of a bigger universe as Luke Skywalker, “Debauchery’s” Kyle Daigrepont will huff and bluster as a CP30 reconceived as an Elizabethan clown, and Ashley Rose Bailey will whistle, beep and recite soliloquies as the indomitable R2D2.
Matt Stanley will bellow a bellicose Chewbacca to life, and musical theater regular Richard Hutton will intone the wisdom of the force as the mysterious Obi-Wan Kenobi.
And Darth Vader? Tracey Collins, “Young Frankenstein’s” Frau Blucher, will exchange the neighing of horses for John Williams’ Imperial March as she menaces the stage in the role of The Dark Lord of The Sith.
Seibert’s partner in this theatrical smuggling operation was actress Trina Beck. Most recently seen in Summer Lyric’s production of “A Chorus Line,” Beck shared Seibert’s “this must happen” enthusiasm and offered her services as hairstyle-challenged, plucky Princess Leia.
“I’ve even got the wig.”
Beck, whose enthusiasm for Star Wars traces back to her and her high school boyfriend’s band-geek adoration of John Williams, hopes the reading will be enough of a success that she and Seibert will be able to stage the two sequels “The Empire Striketh Back” and “The Jedi Doth Return.”
“Ultimately, these are books. They’re meant to be read. However, doing them as staged readings with costumes and light sabers allow us to have some fun and maybe capture what we loved about them so long ago.”