What on earth would prompt an actor to smoosh the entire first “Star Wars” film trilogy into a one-man, one-hour stage show? Easy, Charles Ross says: “Looming unemployment.”
Easy, Charles Ross says: “Looming unemployment.”
But little did the now-33-year-old Canadian actor know, back in 2001, that tapping into that pop culture artifact for a gimmicky stage act, a kind of actorly calling-card, would end up consuming the last six years of his life.
Since then, Ross has toured his “One-Man 'Star Wars’ Trilogy” in something like a ceaseless worldwide whirlwind, from off-Broadway to Dubai. The production comes to
Scottsdale’s Theater 4301 on Thursday for a two-week run.
“It kind of never ends,” Ross says of the tour. “The way 'Star Wars’ lives in the heart of some people” — well, a lot of people, really — “this show will survive after a nuclear war.”
Clad in basic black, with knee and elbow pads and a headset microphone, Ross traverses George Lucas’ space opera — from Princess Leia’s holographic distress call, to those hirsute little Ewoks, even humming John Williams’ indomitable score — while also offering the occasional bit of his own pithy commentary and comic riffs.
(It helps that he has seen the movies about 400 times.)
The end result is a stage show that plays to a crowd ranging from the nerdy contingent of “Star Wars’ ” most ardent fans, Ross says, to those who simply want to see a virtuosic bit of theatrical performance. A tour-de-The-Force, if you will.
What’s ironic about the Scottsdale shows, of course, is that Ross is replacing what was to be a two-week run of “Wishful Drinking,” an autobiographical monologue by actress/writer Carrie Fisher — who, clad in a cinnamon-bun hairdo, originated the role of Princess Leia in 1977. (Fisher’s show, being retooled somewhat with a new director, has been rescheduled for Theater 4301 in April.)
“Isn’t that weird, huh?” says Ross, chuckling, when informed by a reporter. “I guess I’m the replacement for the real thing.”
Ross’ unexpected fame for “One-Man 'Star Wars’ Trilogy” hasn’t been without its Dark Side, the actor admits. He has had to put his regular acting on the back burner.
He has become the “One-Man Epic” guy, tapping into that rich vein of dork nostalgia: A solo “Lord of the Rings” trilogy came and went a few years ago. (Owners of the rights to “LOTR” have been less forgiving than George Lucas.) And a “One-Man ’80s Blank Tape” — a mash-up of John Hughes movies, MTV videos and pro wrestling — is available for booking at a theater near you.
Lately, Ross has been pondering “One-Man 'Indiana Jones.’ ”
“I’ve gotten very philosophical about the whole thing,” Ross says. “I went through a bitter period. But it’s just too damn fun.”
"One-Man 'Star Wars' Trilogy"
When: Opens 7:30 p.m. Thursday , running 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 11
Where: Theater 4301, 4301 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Information: (480) 994-2787 or www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org