‘The Princess Strikes Back’ is a Sure-Fire Hit of Galactic Proportions

One of the best aspects of reviewing theater is the chance to discover something new. Yes, it’s nice to see a new interpretation of a classic play or an actor’s fresh take on playing a well-known character, but nothing compares to seeing the actual creation of a brand-new original work.

Watching Victoria Montalbano’s one-woman show The Princess Strikes Back: One Woman’s Search for the Space Cowboy of her Dreams must be what it was like seeing one of the original performances of John Leguizamo’s Mambo Mouth, Rob Becker’s Defending the Caveman, or Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Indeed, the material is fresh and exciting, and Montalbano’s delivery is spot-on perfect.

Already a stellar show, with a little more revision The Princess Strikes Back has all the qualities to be a smash in Chicago. In fact, I could easily see this witty, charming, funny, and all-around great show having a successful Off-Broadway run in the next few years. Then who knows? With a piece this good, the sky is the limit.


So, what is The Princess Strikes Back that deserves such lofty praise?

The Princess Strikes Back: One Woman’s Search for the Space Cowboy of her Dreams is a 75-minute conversational performance piece that Montalbano debuted in 2021. Riding on the success of stagings at the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, Orlando Fringe Festival, IndyFringe Theatre Festival, Elgin Fringe Festival, and Chicago Circus and Performing Arts Festival, she now brings the show to audiences throughout Chicagoland. I strongly encourage you to snap up tickets while you can.

Critics around the country have raved about Montalbano’s one-woman show, and rightfully so. It is a powerhouse performance that touches the heart, while also inspiring such intense laughter that it will make your eyes tear.

Starting off the performance in full Princess Leia slave girl garb from 1983’s Return of the Jedi, Montalbano explains how she realized her ideal man as a pubescent girl watching Star Wars movies. And the man who stirred such new and exciting feelings in her young loins was none other than Han Solo – the handsome, sarcastic, dashing wanted man brought to life by Harrison Ford.

Be clear, however, that the man of Montalbano’s dreams was not Harrison Ford himself. She was smitten with Han Solo – a fictional character. And problems arise when every man you date has to compare to a fictional character.


Over the next hour and fifteen minutes, our courageous young heroine recalls the roller coaster of a love life of a young girl growing up infatuated with a Star Wars bad boy.  With great comedic timing, she walks us through high school crushes, first relationships, an unending effort to lose her virginity, workplace romances, regrettable flings, and other stories woven together into a Star Wars-themed tapestry of introspection on the maturing process of becoming an empowered young woman.

Under the skillful direction of Vincent J. Greco, with costumes by Emily Nelson, Montalbano gives a wonderful performance. Her dialogue is well-rehearsed, slipping effortlessly off her lips, yet always sincere and from the heart. And the material is well strung together, complete with the details from the Star Wars universe necessary to make any film references relatable to anyone in the audience.

Montalbano has a degree from Syracuse University and also studied at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. She is a veteran of such shows as Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, The Comedy of Errors, and Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Her background in traditional theater gives her a relatable assurance on stage.


Skilled in improv, Montalbano knows how to connect to a live audience. There is enough movement to keep the audience engaged, but not so much that it’s distracting. At times, Montalbano takes a seat to really relate poignant moments from her life. At other times, she engages in choreographed steps and cinematic hero poses. It all blends into one nonstop rollercoaster of fun.

There are some tech elements in The Princes Strikes Back and they are well placed. Montalbano has indicated more such bells and whistles are instore as she develops the material, which I feel will only add to the appeal of an already strong show.

Finally, it should be noted that Montalbano proves that a plus-size woman who carries herself with confidence can be very sexy – whether in this galaxy or one far far away.

The Princess Strikes Back: One Woman’s Search for the Space Cowboy of her Dreams is next scheduled at The Bughouse Theater (1910 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613) on Sunday January 8 and Sunday February 12.

For showtimes, ticket information, and other details on The Princess Strikes Back visit: http://www.victorianotvicky.com/the-princess-strikes-back.html

For additional information on Victoria Montalbano including booking information visit: www.VictoriaNotVicky.com

Photo credits Sarah Elizabeth Larson

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta

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This year, I had the great pleasure of appearing in the hilarious Paul Rudnick comedy I Hate Hamlet for Elgin Theatre Company in the greater Chicago area. To our great honor, I Hate Hamlet has been nominated for seven prizes in the 2022 Broadway World Chicago Theatre Awards:

  • Best Direction of a Play – Regina Belt-Daniels
  • Best Ensemble Performance
  • Best Play
  • Best Performer in a Play – Rikki Lee Travolta
  • Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Trace Gamache
  • Best Supporting Performer in a Play – David Gasior
  • Best Supporting Performer in a Play – Travis Greuel

If you want to voice your support for the Elgin Theatre Company production of I Hate Hamlet, you can cast your vote at: https://www.broadwayworld.com/chicago/voteregion.cfm

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