Star Wars, the Musical, to hit the London stage in April 2009

The Star Wars prequels were bad enough, but now George Lucas is doing Star Wars, the musical. A Phantom Menace of the Empire waiting to happen?

After the mostly abysmal "prequels" that George Lucas inflicted on die-hard Star Wars fans (The Phantom Menace was so painful that I thought of suing on the grounds of emotional distress), take heart: it may actually get worse.

Lucas is planning to stage a musical version of the Star Wars series, distilling 13-plus hours of film into a 90-minute musical extravaganza. But don't despair: it's not as bad as it sounds. Les Miserables Clone Wars, it is not.

Instead, it will be an orchestral production to accompany clips from the movies, not R2-D2 belting "The Phantom Menace of the Empire," as The Times reports:

[A]lthough actors [will] be used to narrate the story, it will not be a stage musical. The production...will be more like a classical music concert performed in front of a cinema screen...at the O2 Arena in southeast London.

The audience at the 17,000-seat venue will watch key scenes from the film as 86 musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play extracts from John Williams' score....

The idea behind the adaptation of the films was to allow audiences greater participation. [The producer] said: "It is a lot different to sitting down and listening to the record. As a film it is very much a one-way experience. We are trying to bridge that a little bit to make it a two-way experience."

Another reason is almost certainly to make Lucasfilm and George Lucas more money. A DVD of the event is almost certain to hit shelves next year, just in time for Christmas. Now if only Lucas would focus on making episodes seven through nine, rather than milking the fruits of his earlier labors, I just might get excited.

Or maybe not. The Times also reports that Jar Jar Binks will be in the London musical production. Say it ain't so, George!

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