Saturday, July 09, 2011

On Stage with Weird Al

Tonight R2 got to join several Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, and a Jawa on stage for Weird Al Yankovic's concert at the Pacific Amphitheater, in Costa Mesa, CA.

This was an interesting event for me for several reasons. First, I'd never done this concert before, and wanted to do it. Second, R2-building buddy Matthew Henricks is a huge Weird Al fan, and although he did the show last year, he would have loved to do it again this year. He graciously wrangled for me and took pictures and video, as I operated R2 on stage. Finally, my lifelong friend Kelvin's wife Patti is also a huge Weird Al fan, and I was determined to try to help her meet Al in person.

Call time was 7:00pm, and the characters gathered at the bottom of the ramp that leads to the backstage area. The show was to start at 8:15pm, and the Star Wars characters were scheduled to perform during the encore to Al's song, "The Saga Begins."

Before the show, Matthew and I scouted the stage for the inevitable cables. Luckily, Matthew brought a large section of board, and the stage crew laid down carpet and taped it down for R2 to drive over.

Due to the relatively late call time and the fact that the audience was already starting to get seated, we did not get a chance to do a stage rehearsal.

Instead, Shawn Crosby walked everyone through the moves. (This also comes in handy during a holdup.)

Meanwhile, R2 hid incognito near the dressing room. I had to wait until after dark to park him backstage, or else the audience would have seen him hiding back there, even with the dome lights off.

Unfortunately, we were not able to see the show from the dressing room, although we could at least hear it. It was plenty loud.

About 45 minutes before the encore, the Star Wars characters started changing into costumes. Al's daughter wore a costume supplied by wrangler Wellington Eng, made from the authentic material that was used in the original Star Wars film.

The Stormtroopers and Vader suited up as well. I had nothing better to do than take pictures.

As the encore approached, everyone got ready backstage for their entrance. I already had R2 ready to go behind the curtain.

And on we went! R2 was on the very right, our Jawa on the very left, and the troopers and Vader in the middle, along with Al and the band.

It looks like I should have had R2 positioned closer to center-stage, but I wanted to make sure I didn't interfere with the dancing troopers. More than once the spotlight was on R2. At one point, Al walked over and sang tenderly to R2.

By the nature of a nighttime outdoor concert, the pictures and videos won't be very sharp. You may want to click the Full Screen icon for the YouTube videos.

[Update, yet another version that has the whole song, mostly of the video board. Unfortuantely, when Al sang to R2 at the 4:50 mark ("...the battle droids were broken..."), R2 was below the camera's field of view.]

Once the song ended, R2 led the characters off the stage. The concerted ended shortly thereafter, and then we lined the characters up for pictures with other friends and fans that had backstage passes. Lots of pictures!

Heck, I even jumped in for a quick picture.

This was a rare occasion where Al was so mobbed, he didn't have an opportunity to meet with the Star Wars characters after the show. However, all hope was not lost...

Best of all, thanks to Shawn, I was able to get Patti backstage to meet Al, which was a chance of a lifetime for her.

Thank you to Matthew Henricks for the backstage video and for helping Kelvin and Patti with tickets, and Kelvin and Patti for the pictures and video from the audience vantage point.

The full photoset is here.


Paul said...

I am always amazed at the Celebrities you get to rub shoulders with! Huge kudos to you and the builders/troopers out West!

Victor Franco said...

Yes, I'm lucky to live where we have a lot of opportunities.

I do know that a lot of the guys have done the Weird Al show, I almost feel like I'm one of the last ones.