Picture an eight-year-old boy acting out his favourite scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy.
Charlie Ross says that might give you an idea of what it’s like watching him do his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy on stage at the Cleland Theatre on Dec. 12. Come prepared to laugh.
“You can’t take this thing seriously. There are people that love Star Wars enough that they well up with tears, but that’s because they are like me, they’re a nerd,” said Ross. “What it is, is me on stage with no costume, no set, no props, just reenacting the trilogy, but it’s in an hour so there are huge jumps in the timeline.
“I make all kind of side comments and jokes throughout. Just trying to have the same fun you did when you were a kid, maybe re-enacting whatever your favourite story was.
“It’s the original trilogy, the one I grew up watching. In my mind, so far, that’s the best one.“
Ross developed the show almost two decades ago while working in Barkerville, which is where he also met Paul Crawford, now curator at the Penticton Art Gallery.
“Paul and I have been trying to make this happen for a long time,” said Ross.
The One-Man Star Wars Trilogy and the One-Man Pride & Prejudice on Dec. 13 are fundraisers for the art gallery.
Ross said Barkerville used to be his main acting gig for the year, but that all changed when he developed One-Man Star Wars. He started with small theatre festivals before getting an invitation to do the show in Chicago.
“Everything picked up. I started doing the show in more and more places, and then I went to New York City for six months and did the show at an off-Broadway venue,” said Ross. “Literally, right there, it was about 70 feet from Broadway itself.”
Though Ross is a big Star Wars fan, he says there are things in the trilogy that are “charmingly annoying.”
“Like Luke Skywalker. He’s just the whiniest character ever put to screen,” said Ross. “If I just try to honestly be what he was, that is brilliant in itself. He did all the work for you.”
It’s not just the characters. When Ross said he does the whole trilogy, he means it.
“How do I be all the spaceships, how do I be Princess Leia?” joked Ross. “It’s just by using The Force, I guess, and hoping no one gets up and starts leaving.”
One-man Star Wars might be right up nerd alley, but Ross says it’s really for everyone, all age ranges, all demographics.
After the One-Man Star Wars on Tuesday, Ross switches gears for the next night’s show, One-Man Pride and Prejudice.
“The format of every romantic comedy you’ve ever been dragged to in the movie theatre is based on this,” said Ross. “You could almost say that Han and Leia, the format for their adversarial love story, that is Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, they hate each other, but of course, they love each other.”
It’s a story we all recognize now: Two people meet each other, they overcome misunderstandings and hurdles, they fall in love.
In Jane Austen’s time, though, it wasn’t so widespread — Ross calls her a trailblazer and an “incredibly droll writer” for her subtle takedown of the propertied classes.
Ross worked on the adaptation and the dialogue for Pride and Prejudice with his wife but admits to worrying how it would work on stage, especially with a man playing all the parts, including Lizzie.
“Surprisingly it does. I think it’s because it is already so ridiculous, people just sort of buy-in,” said Ross. “You know it’s going to work out, but still they get so totally worked up about it.
The switching roles are key to making it work.
“I think it is funny when you see a person trying to fall in love with themselves on stage because it’s a guy being a man and a woman and it’s a romantic comedy. You’re trying to build up tension between you and yourself,” said Ross. “It’s really wonderfully ridiculous.”
Tickets to the shows are $20 for adults, $10 for students and available in advance at the Penticton Art Gallery, 199 Marina Way, or by phone at 250-493-2928. Doors open both nights at 6:45 p.m.
For more information, visit pentictonartgallery.com/events.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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