Jason Woodruff

Charles Ross created and performs "One-Man Star Wars Trilogy."

One-man 'Star Wars'-based show came together long time ago

Published: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 9TICKET

When Charles Ross was young, he lived on a farm in Canada that lacked radio and television reception. He entertained himself by watching the two movies his family owned.

As fate would … oh, who are we kidding? As the Force would have it, one of those movies was the original "Star Wars."

Ross watched that film so many times it later sparked an idea, when he was a fledgling actor looking for a regular gig, for his "One-Man Star Wars Trilogy" touring stage show.

Plus, doing a one-man version of the other movie, "The Blue Lagoon," would have been weird, Ross said.

Ross, 38, acts out "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" in his show, which he will perform tonight at the Mondavi Center in Davis.

Ross hums the trilogy's music, mimes its action and mines its earnestness for laughs.

Ross has performed the show for 12 years – a period of renewed interest in "Star Wars," thanks to George Lucas' trilogy of movie prequels.

"Star Wars" made news again last month when Disney announced it would buy Lucasfilm for $4 billion and finally follow up "Jedi" with episodes 7, 8 and 9.

Reached by phone last week at his home in British Columbia, Ross discussed his stage show and the future of the "Star Wars" movies.

Is your show really long, or do you truncate the three movies a bit?

It is 60 minutes long. Twenty minutes per film. It is very truncated. I edited out entire sections of the films. … The editorial cuts make the story zip by.

What does the show look like?

I shudder to say it would be the largest piece of performance art in the world. I am humming or singing the music, miming the ships and fighting the battles and playing all the characters back and forth.

A single guy on stage who is portraying everything and being everything, it looks absurd. I always have thought of it as a psychology test. Like when they take a piece of paper, with stripes and dots, and arrange it to look like a tiger. Your mind fills in the blanks.

I can't actually be Princess Leia. I don't emit lasers from my fingers. But when I create this language, people fill in the blanks.

How do you handle the temperature extremes of wearing the Chewbacca costume and Princess Leia's bikini?

There are no costume changes. I wear a black pair of coveralls, kind of like a mechanic, to be as neutral as possible. I did not want to have a bunch of lame costumes. They wouldn't have to be lame … but let's face it, they would be lame.

It's easier to take things down to their very essence. You are bringing it down to this crazy mime romp of a show that blasts through a trilogy people already know.

Are people who have not seen the trilogy able to "get" your show?

I think so. People who come see my show have either seen all the films or have seen none of them. It is sort of like if you go see cricket in England, and you don't know the rules, but everyone around you does, and you can (relax) and have a drink.

People will come back and see the show again after seeing the movies. It has inspired people to see the movies.

Will Disney buying Lucasfilm have any effect on your show?

I don't know. I don't think so. They bought Lucasfilm, and they bought all their properties. … They might ask me to stop doing my show, but I don't know what their motivation would be. I pay a licensing fee.

How do you feel, as a fan, about Disney owning "Star Wars"?

I was actually kind of interested because, think about (Disney). They have been in the business of making family entertainment as long as I have been alive, and they often outsource their stuff to other people. I think of all the stewards that could sort of look after the "Star Wars" universe, they were better equipped than anyone else.

After Disney makes Episode 7, will you add it to your trilogy?

To tell you the truth, the original show I do I started doing it because I knew (the movies) really well. I guess if I became obsessed with 7 and 8 and 9, maybe. You can't force yourself to love something. ...

My nephews really love the new films, and they were made with them a little more in mind. It was difficult for George Lucas to bridge all these generations.


When: 8 tonight

Where: Mondavi Center, UC Davis

Cost: $20, $30, $50. Subscriber add-on: $13, $21, $30. Students: $10, $15 or $20.

Information: (530) 754-2787, www.mondaviarts.org

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