For years, Star Wars has been an amazingly popular film series. It has spawned both sequels and prequels, as well as a large cult following. Some of the movies' fans, such as comedian/actor Charles Ross, have seen the films repeatedly (Ross claims to have seen the original over 400 times). Ross stands out, however, because he has turned his fandom into a profitable career.
The One Man Star Wars Trilogy, as Ross told the audience after the show, began as a 20-minute act that he did for fun. But, after George Lucas saw and enjoyed it, Ross expanded his comedy piece and performed it for others. He started out at Star Wars conventions, at times acting alone in front of thousands of people. Then, Ross decided it was time to take his show to New York, just off Broadway in Lamb's Theatre, where he has been performing since Aug. 9. Robert De Niro, however, decided to take over the theatre to shoot his new film, The Good Shepherd, which brought Ross to Boston's Wilbur Theatre last week for a short engagement.
Ross opened up his hour-long version of the original Star Wars trilogy by singing the 20th Century Fox theme aloud, which showed the audience that he really would go the whole nine yards. He then pulled back and spread his arms and mumbled what was going on to tell the opening story. He went through the beginning and set up the characters, doing a near-perfect James Earl Jones impression of Darth Vader and forming hair buns with his hands for Princess Leia. He mimicked C-3PO's nagging voice with surprising accuracy, as he did with all of the characters.
Ross proved to have skilled comedic timing, making the audience laugh while he moved through all the major plot points of the story of Episode IV: A New Hope. He made Luke the whiny teenager that he is and even got down to the floor and beeped for R2-D2. His willingness to hit every detail pleased the audience greatly. The impressions of actors such as Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness were so good that they elicited laughter.
Ross interacted with the audience as he began The Empire Strikes Back. He summoned an audience member-in this case a young woman-to the stage and then yelled the theme song as he backed up for the scrolling story of the second film, which shocked her and made the rest of the audience laugh. He then entered the battle on Hoth and devoted a few minutes to the attack on one of the giant four-legged AT-ATs and fell face-first onto the ground, which sent most of the audience into hysterics.
Upon reaching Return of the Jedi, Ross began to get really into everything. He screamed "ee-yah!" at the top of his lungs as he imitating the Ewoks attacking the imperial forces.
When Obi-Wan tells Luke that Vader truly is his father, Ross poked fun at the fact that Obi-Wan misled Luke about his father's death. He also tossed in jokes about Episode III: Revenge of the Sith to acknowledge the most recent additions to the Star Wars saga. All this kept the audience entertained throughout. Ross showed his comedic talent, doing the whole trilogy in under an hour, by himself, with no props.
The show does have its drawbacks because Ross can only display what is going on by either imitating voices or out and out telling the audience. For the Star Wars fanatics in the audience, this was easy to follow and was a laugh riot, but for the casual fan, much of the night may have seemed inaccessible.
The admission price of near $35 was a bit high, however, for only an hour of the Star Wars entertainment. Unless you love the movies and have seen them all in the past week, this trip was a little too far, far away from the ideal.