Recommended **** “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy” has returned to Chicago for a short, short run at Broadway Playhouse. If you’re a Star Wars fan, this show is a must-see! Bring your kids and/or your grandkids, it’s family-friendly. It made me laugh, so I give “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy” 3 ½ Spotlights.
I was in awe as watched Charles Ross, alone on stage, without props and scenery, retell the three Star Wars movies in his own inimitable style. He’s really good at funky noises like the sound a light saber makes when it’s turned on. Growing up, my brothers used to do the same thing – go through a movie making all the sound effects – but they outgrew it!
He started with the theme music, alternating his arms upward to signify the moving titles. Some of the more unique characters: C3PO’s stiff gait and R2D2’s whistles; his hands in loose fists next to his ears for Princess Leia’s weird hairdo; echo-y sounding heavy breathing and a deeper voice for Darth Vader; hunched over an imaginary cane for Yoda; hands over his eyes for the Admiral; arms straight up and a whiny roar for the Wookie; crossed arms across face, moving the lower arm when Jabba the Hut spoke.
Ross occasionally threw in a few snarky comments and modern references. For instance, he wondered out loud how anyone could think Jar Jar Binks was a good idea.
After completing the first movie, he took a break to talk to the audience, asking about personal Star Wars experiences. He asked questions like – how many people saw all three of the original movies, or how many people had watched them all in the same day. He also asked if there was anyone in the audience who’d never seen the movies. When just one person clapped, he singled her out for repeated comments.
A person sitting behind me had a very loud laugh that sounded just like a rooster crowing. He directed a couple of snarky comments in that direction, too.
After the show, Charlie sat cross-legged on the floor and talked to the audience about the show. He said he grew up on a farm in Canada. Star Wars (the first movie) was one of three movies his family had on video, so he watched it a lot. He knew he wasn’t going to go far in Canada with a degree in acting, so he tried stand-up as a way to pay the bills.
One night at a tiny comedy club (with an audience of about 60 people), he did the first movie as his routine, thinking a couple of people might get the references. To his surprise, it was a hit, so he kept doing it. In fact, when he was doing a gig at Chicago’s Noble Fool, he was interviewed on NPR, which brought him to the attention of the people at Lucasfilm, which was a whole story in itself. Today he’s part of the Lucasfilm family.
“One-Man Star Wars Trilogy” runs through April 24th at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, Chicago. Running time is roughly 60 minutes with a short post-show talk. Visit www.broadwayinchicago.com for performance days and times. Tickets range from $35-$65. Parking is available at a discounted rate in the Water Tower Place garage. Be sure and get a voucher from one of the ushers. FYI (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and www.BroadwayInChicago.com.
Much of Ross’ childhood was spent in a galaxy far, far away, watching Star Wars videos over – and over – and over again. The result of this misspent youth is his hysterical ONE-MAN STAR WARS™ TRILOGY, where he single-handedly plays all the characters, sings the music, flies the ships, fights the battles and condenses the plots into one hilarious show!
If you’ve already seen the movies, read the books and named your first-born Skywalker, Ross’ zany take on Star Wars is right up your alley and sure to leave a lasting impression.
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