Ross performs ‘One Man Star Wars Trilogy'
Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 7:43 p.m.
If there is such a thing as an inner child, Charles Ross owes his a whole lot of money.
‘One Man Star Wars Trilogy'
What: Performer Charles Ross recreates characters and storylines from the first three “Star Wars” films
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through April 19, 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 20
Where: Squitieri Studio Theatre at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road
Tickets: $15 for Tuesday, $20 for all other performances, $10 all seats for UF students
Info: 392-2787, Ticketmaster.com
Ross is best known as the creator of — and sole actor in — the “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” which will appear at the Squitieri Studio Theatre Tuesday through April 20.
The show isn't hard to explain; it is literally a one-man rendition of the entire “Star Wars” trilogy. Ross voices all the characters, stages all the fight scenes, makes all the sound effects and even sings snippets of the soundtrack.
“It's sort of embracing your inner 8-year-old child,” Ross says about the show.
In fact, during conversation Ross often brings up the concepts of an inner child or a reversion to childhood, perhaps with good reason. For more than a decade, he has made his living by being, basically, a glorified version of a child playing make-believe in his room (he also does a one-man “Lord of the Rings” show).
“When you're a kid, you can say you're a fire engine,” he says. “You're not going to sound like one or look like one, but that doesn't matter. It's just going with it and going big.”
The idea for the show struck Ross while playing Frisbee — yet another extension of the inner child motif.
“I was playing the game with a couple of friends, and it was getting a bit boring, so we decided there had to be a new rule, which was that we had to say a line from ‘Star Wars' when we threw the Frisbee and the person had to start saying the next line from the movie before they caught it,” he says.
Ross couldn't believe how long he and his friends could keep the game going. They had, it seemed, wasted a whole lot of time watching “Star Wars.”
Of course, “waste” is a subjective word. Ross began performing a short version of the show around comedy clubs and smaller venues. As he honed the material, his crowds became bigger and bigger. Soon, he was traveling the world, performing in countries where “Star Wars” was often the only thing he and the audience had in common.
“It's not just in North America; it's worldwide,” he says of the movie franchise's mass appeal.
He also learned that geeks have apparently inherited the Earth.
“I learned from watching the crowds and their reactions that people that didn't outwardly seem like total geeks, they were,” he said. “It made me think, ‘Wow, maybe people are geekier than they let on to be.'”
Of course, one man performing the jobs of dozens of actors, cameramen, special effects artists and musicians means that the performance isn't seamless. In fact, Ross uses that rough-around-the-edges feel to his benefit. He knows what he's good at, and he knows what he isn't good at, and both of those things are just fine with him.
“My Yoda sucks,” he says. “I can't do it, but it doesn't really matter. I just go for it.”
Whatever he does, it seems to be working. Lucasfilm, the production company of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, has sanctioned his performance (for which largesse, he pays royalties to Lucasfilm).
When asked to describe what it feels like to have Lucas' implicit blessing, Ross returns yet again to his inner child.
“At the beginning, it was exceptionally surreal,” he says. “Over the years, I've gotten used to working with them. If I would have told myself as a kid that I would even meet someone who had a costume that looked like a storm trooper, I would have lost my mind.
“To put myself at the level I am now, I couldn't even talk to that little kid. He'd go insane.”