Shippensburg was transported to a galaxy far, far away thanks to one man.
Luhrs Performing Arts Center welcomed Charlie Ross, the writer and performer of “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” on Oct. 26.
The show is a homage to the “Star Wars” original trilogy. Officially licensed by Lucasfilm, the production is a fun reimagining of the classic story performed by a single actor.
Other than some colorful stage lights and use of a mirror ball, every aspect of the night was made by Ross’ terrific performance. Being the only cast member, Ross voiced all the characters, imitated the ships and sang John William’s unforgettable music.
After each act, which coincided with the end of the three movies, Ross sat down to catch his breath and talk with the audience.
“You’re letting your nerd just sort of come out, which is great. Because that there is called maturity,” he said during the second interlude.
His commentary wasn’t limited to the interludes either. Throughout the show, Ross apologized for spitting on the front row, commented on difficult lines and made jokes about the story.
Some jokes were a bit over-explained, but most got a chuckle out of many. Times like emphasizing a moment in “A New Hope” where a character mispronounces Leia’s name as LEE-ah were funny, but Ross went on to explain the joke, robbing it of some of its humor.
I would not classify his character voices as impressions, but rather as tributes. While his version of R2-D2 and the probe droid hit the bullseye, his Obi-Wan Kenobi sounded a bit more like Rowan Atkinson than Alec Guiness. But there’s no mistaking who he’s portraying at any one time.
The physicality of the performance helped distinguish characters as well. Whether holding his hands up by his head to suggest Princess Leia’s hair buns or using his arms to form Jabba the Hutt’s mouth, Ross ensured that each character was distinct.
I sat down with Ross after the show to discuss its history. Ross has performed over 5,000 times since its creation in 2001 and has been able to tour across the globe.
“For me, when the emperor comes out, that’s when things kind of culminate for me,” Ross said. “Finally, I’ve got all the characters involved and I can now be all of them, and I get to be the evil bastard.”
Ross also performs a “One Man Lord of the Rings” show, which he developed after his “One Man Star Wars.” He has also adapted “The Avengers,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “The Dark Knight” and other works. “Back to the Future” is something Ross would like to work on, but licensing has been a roadblock thus far.
He also spoke on the difficulty of adapting comedies. “Trying to make something funny (more) funny is actually hard. I’d love to do some kind of One-Man Monty Python, but it's already funny as it is.”
I asked Ross if he would be interested in returning to perform his “One Man Lord of the Rings” at Luhrs. “Absolutely. If they asked me, I’d be here in a heartbeat.”