If the pre-show music of John Williams’ fantastic score wafting through Booth Playhouse wasn’t enough, then the two gentlemen close to my seat debating the quality of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” cemented it. I was at the right show. Everyone around me shared a common love for the “Star Wars” saga, which meant Charles Ross seemingly had his work cut out for him in the form of the beast that is “Star Wars” fandom. The fandom can be a bit too overprotective of the saga at times, though from my talk with Ross a couple weeks before the show, it was apparent that he was one of these fans as well.
As a one-man act, Ross carries out his one hour version of the original trilogy in a splendid way, producing his own sound effects and music on top of his performance. While the pace is a bit jarring at first, I quickly settled in right around R2-D2 and C-3PO landing on Tatooine. This isn’t simply a run-down of the plot, but Ross injects his own humor and comments into the show itself; a bit like a parody similar to the likes of “Family Guy’s” or “Phineas & Ferb’s” “Star Wars” specials. For example, he makes note of the fact that General Dodonna, who gives the attack plan for the Death Star on Yavin IV, is the only person in the entire saga to pronounce Princess Leia as “Princess Leah.” It’s moments like these, as well as some quick-witted improv based on some mic difficulties which occurred the night of my show, that make this hyperactive version of the original trilogy feel worthwhile.
While it is an unrealistic expectation for Ross to nail each voice for every character, he instead makes it perfectly clear which character he is performing by greatly exaggerating the character’s mannerisms, such as Lando’s suave and confident nature or Luke’s early whiny tone. While someone who may have never seen “Star Wars” before may still be confused — though I would wonder why they were even there — it is helpful for keeping track of all that is happening in this sped up version.
What impressed me most was how well the version of the trilogy Ross presents flows. Even though I was aware of the fact that the show is only an hour long, it never fully sinks in just how amazing of an accomplishment it is until you see it for yourself. Boiling down nearly seven hours worth of film to just one is no small feat, especially when making sure it still makes sense and is entertaining to the audience. Throw on top of that the fact he is having to remember lines while switching between characters, flying around stage with his arms in an x-wing position, and making sure he gets Vader’s “Imperial March” at the right time and it is mind-blowing, let alone that he is doing it as a single person with no props for an entire hour. The show’s lighting is the only real assistance, which is reserved for moments like the Death Star exploding or spotlighting the emperor’s evil monologue.
With all of that energy expended during the show, what the audience gave in return at my showing was a phenomenal applause. After the show, Ross accurately remarked that people are passionate about “Star Wars,” and even those who dislike it, love to express their hate towards it. Ross is just like everyone who sat around me last Friday: a fan who holds a deep love for the “Star Wars” franchise. Ross touched on this concept after his show, as it is the world of “Star Wars” that offers an escapism from life’s everyday woes which causes so many fans to gravitate toward it. Ross shows a clear understanding of this concept throughout his show and is able to display his own passion in a hilarious way; a way that connected everyone in the audience to a singular passion.