Anyone who doubts that the Star Wars movies will endure as popular art for decades to come wasn't at the MTS Centre Tuesday night.
More than 6,000 fans of the George Lucas science-fiction franchise turned up to watch two hours of video clips from the six movies displayed on an LED screen, with superstar composer John Williams' original score performed live by an 86-piece orchestra.
Anthony Daniels, the British-born actor who played the venerable robot C3PO, provided good-humoured narration, while stirring vocal support for this touring show out of San Francisco came from our city's own Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, itself about 60 members strong.
From the opening bars of the familiar overture, it quickly became evident that this was a performance fit for, if not Queen Elizabeth (who missed it by a couple nights), at least Princess Leia.
Conductor Dirk Brossé commanded his musical troops like an Imperial general, motioning without a baton, or even a light sabre.
In front of his music stand was his own personal flat-screen monitor duplicating the images on the giant screen above his head and allowing him to keep the musicians properly synchronized.
With its pounding brass notes, swooping strings and haunting woodwinds, Williams' score owes much to the grand martial tradition of Wagner and Shostakovich. The musically educated also hear homages to the likes of Holst and Tchaikovsky.
One wonders how many of the children in the MTS Centre audience, after an aural treat like this, would be curious to seek out the pleasures of, say, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
The production used coloured lights as visual accents, and some dramatic lasers to open the second act, but otherwise kept the special effects to a tasteful minimum.
A few times, onstage cameras projected the images of the tuxedo-clad musicians instead of, or alongside, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo and the dozens of other Star Wars characters.
The crowd, the majority of whom ranged in age from six to 60, was much more ethnically diverse than for most arena rock shows, which are dominated by well-heeled white audiences.
It was the lucky parent Tuesday who escaped without dropping at least $50 per offspring on plastic paraphernalia.
"It's important to be here," said NCI Radio general manager David McLeod, who brought his two children, ages 5 and 8.
"This is the event in town today for kids."
Star Wars: In Concert
z MTS Centre
z June 29
z Attendance: 6,500
HHHH out of five