The force is certainly strong with this one. Canadian actor Charles Ross claims to have seen the Star Wars trilogy more than 400 times, and his vast knowledge was evident throughout his hour-long frenzied performance of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Despite some technical problems that forced him to soldier through the first installment without a microphone, Ross displayed a nice balance between fan’s obsession and film critic’s eye for detail.
But non-obsessives beware: If you’re not extremely familiar with the plots and characters of each film, some of Ross’s humor may be lost in translation. I found the progression a bit difficult to follow at times, and I admit to missing a few of the jokes that elicited the greatest laughs from the crowd — most of whom had obviously seen the trilogy a few dozen times more than I have. Also, get to the show early to secure a spot up front. I sat a few rows from the back and was unable to see some of Ross’s crowd-pleasing writhing-around-on-the-floor antics.
All the important characters get their due — Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Yoda, etc. — and while some of the impersonations leave a bit to be desired (mainly Yoda), the spirit of the characters and their relationships with each other shine through. Highlights include his take on Jabba the Hutt and the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. More than anything, Ross offers a razor-sharp assessment of Luke as an earnest Jedi-in-training who frequently succumbs to childish complaints and obnoxious whining (the “I am your father” sequence is hilarious) — not to mention the young warrior’s excessively “feathered hair.”
Ross is especially good at uncovering all the ridiculously far-fetched aspects of the films, and his out-of-character asides attest to his love for the films while noting the many moments when suspension of disbelief becomes a necessity. The musical transitions between scenes are mostly smooth, primarily because of Ross’s adept mouth-trumpet renditions of the iconic Star Wars score.
One last word of advice: Pay close attention. Ross is best with his quick-witted interjections and toss-off lines that occasionally get lost in all the mania. —Eric Liebetrau