Charlie Ross says he isn’t the fan of “Star Wars” he once was, but then again he’s not 10 anymore.
He’s 34 and a very busy actor, and these days most of his workload revolves on his own solo offering, “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” set to run for six performances Thursday through Sunday at the GE Theatre in Proctors. It’s a show he wrote himself and has been performing since 2001.
“It’s me without a costume, flopping around stage for about 60 minutes,” said Ross. “That’s 20 minutes apiece on each of the movies. If you really like ‘Star Wars,’ then you’ll really enjoy it. And if you’ve never seen any of the movies, hopefully it will inspire you to see at least one or all of them.
‘One Man Star Wars Trilogy’
WHERE: GE Theatre, Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $25
MORE INFO: www.proctors.org or 346-6204
“It’s a celebration of being unabashedly in love with something. No, I’m no longer a kid so I don’t love it as much as I used to, but it’s wonderful to recapture that kind of youthful exuberance each time I do the show.”
An intergalactic epic created by George Lucas, “Star Wars” came out in the spring of 1977 and was followed by two sequels, “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, and “Return of the Jedi” in 1983. In 1999, 16 years after the release of “Return of the Jedi,” the first of three prequels was released, the second and third coming in 2002 and 2005. The overall box office generated by the six films in the “Star Wars” series made it the third-highest grossing film series of all time, behind only those featuring Harry Potter and James Bond.
“The film was very high tech when it first came out, and that made it very different from other movies people had been used to watching,” said Ross. “It was so unique, and now it’s had 30 years to cram its way into people’s memory. It’s become something very familiar to people, and they love talking about where they first saw ‘Star Wars’ and where.”
Ross has to confess he doesn’t remember too much about the first film’s release in 1977.
“My first real ‘Star Wars’ memory was a toy commercial on television,” he said. “I was too young to remember when the movie came out, but you really have to applaud their marketing team. They did a great job. Then I got really into it when the second movie came out in 1980.”
Ross grew up in British Columbia and is a Canadian citizen, although he also spent much of his childhood in Hawaii.
“That was quite a contrast,” he said. “There was a big difference in terms of climate and excitement. But by the time I got to high school I had realized that the theater was right down my alley. It was my favorite subject, and I had already started doing community theater way back in the fourth or fifth grade, and that proved to be great inspiration for me.”
After high school, he went to the University of Victoria in British Columbia and got a degree in theater.
“I probably should have gone to a conservatory or some place like it, but at least I got my degree so if everything fell apart on me I could still be a government worker or something like it,” said Ross. “But I was lucky to be able to find work in my chosen field, and I had been working as an actor while I was still going to school. Victoria’s a great city. It’s a smaller community than Vancouver or Seattle, but it’s near there. You just don’t have to deal with the 2 million-plus population. Victoria’s the best of both worlds.”
Since graduating from college, Ross has spent time living on Canada’s East and West coasts, working as an actor.
“There were times when I needed to get an extra job to kind of fill in the financial blanks now and then,” said Ross. “But I never had to go out and find myself a day job. So I count myself pretty lucky. It got a little thin at times, but it seems like I’ve always managed to be working.”
One of the odd jobs Ross took when things were “thin” was as a clerk in a convenience store.
“I worked at a 7-Eleven and it was a horribly wonderful experience,” said Ross. “It wired me in such a way that I was convinced I didn’t ever want a regular job. I knew I wanted to act. I wanted to do something that I truly loved, and would never really seem like work.”
Putting idea into action
Ross did his first one-man show about “Star Wars” in Toronto in 2001. TJ Dawe, a friend and fellow performer from Toronto, helped Ross get ready for that first performance.
“We had first chatted about the idea of getting it down to a one-minute comedy sketch way back in 1996,” said Ross. “Then we thought about a five-minute version, but I realized that wasn’t going to do it justice. With TJ as my sounding board and my director, I finally performed it, and it went very well. I am amazed that the show has had this much of a shelf life. I’ve traveled to over 200 cities doing the show, and some years are busier than others, which can be good and bad. Last year, I spent about seven months of the year traveling and doing performances.”
Ross and his show became so popular that he was contacted by Lucasfilm, the company which owns the rights for all “Star Wars” products.
“I thought it was wonderful that George Lucas was able to allow a show like this to exist,” said Ross. “But it was pretty weird when they first contacted me, and I was scared out of my mind. I never thought it would get to the point where I’d have to license myself. But they heard about me and had read some good reviews. I sent them the script and told them I wasn’t using any images or music from the film, and I wasn’t selling any T-shirts. It was just me up there by myself talking away, and they were fine with that. They felt like it was something they could get behind and that was pretty cool.”
Ross has also performed a one-man show about “Lord of the Rings,” and does occasionally work on other projects.
The legend continues
“I get the opportunity to do some different things here and there, and I enjoy it,” said Ross. “It’s nice to just be an actor sometimes and not wear so many different hats. It feels like a luxury. But this whole experience of doing ‘Star Wars’ has been great fun and I’m not going to stop anytime soon.”
For now, the legend continues.
“Even for people who haven’t seen any of the films, there are lines that they’re familiar with,” said Ross. “And I’ve had people who haven’t seen it before and they come up and tell me it was hilarious. It’s definitely a crash course in the three movies. So whether you’ve seen it before or not, hopefully you’ll think it’s entertaining.”
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Categories: Life and Arts