PICTURED: Charles Ross embodies both revered and reviled characters in his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy. Photos by Dean Kalyan

by Emily Dodi

 In a galaxy not so far, far away, the actor and self-proclaimed “uber-geek” Charles Ross brings his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy to the stage. On Nov. 12, the Scherr Forum Theatre at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks will be transformed into the Death Star, Mos Eisley’s cantina, and a universe full of other locations from the original Star Warsfilm trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes BackandReturn of the Jedi). In a “mind-bending whirlwind of a show . . . Ross retells the story in 60 minutes” with no costumes, props or sets, but with the characters, the music and the battles intact (in a manner of speaking). 

To say the Force is strong with Ross would be an understatement. He has been a super fan since his dad first took him to see Star Wars when he was six years old. Soon after that, Ross got hold of a VHS recording and woke up at 5:30 a.m. every day to watch it. Making the family VCR work overtime did nothing to diminish Ross’s love of the film. In fact, Ross says Stars Wars is like a first love that you can’t shake.

“When I fell in love with Star Wars as a kid, I gave it the full latitude to be what it was and what it is. It is unabashed love.” Ross adds that he’s not alone. “For a lot of people, one of their first big crushes is Star Wars.”

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy taps into that love and celebrates it, enabling audiences to feel the full force (Force?) of it. When he performs, Ross says he recognizes a familiar spark that lights up in the audience’s eyes. 

“It’s magical,” he says, but you don’t have to be an ardent fan to enjoy One-Man Star Wars Trilogy. Ross’s performance, like the films themselves, has a universal appeal. How else can you explain why his unusual one-man tour de Force has been going strong for 20 years?  

It all began when Ross was studying theater at the University of Victoria in his native Canada. There he became close friends with T.J. Dawe. The two collaborated — Ross performing and Dawe directing — on what would become One-Man Star Wars Trilogy.. The show first evolved into a 20-minute sketch that Ross performed in comedy clubs. “We had very little to lose to try something outlandish,” Ross recalls.

Turns out, they lost nothing and gained a following. 

After graduating from college, Ross describes “getting out of the safe world of school into the big, bad world of auditioning.” He soon realized that he wanted to figure out a way to create his own gigs. He and Dawe expanded the show and fast-forward a couple of decades, they’ve since brought One-Man Star Wars Trilogy. to audiences in more than 500 cities across four continents. 

Today Ross calls himself a “professional geek,” yet even after performing to thousands of people over the years, he is still as much of a wide-eyed Star Warsfan as he has always been.  

“It brings surprising stuff to the surface,” Ross explains. “It isolates that sense memory when you’re a kid. When you’d play without inhibition. If you can hold onto that, it’s incredibly valuable . . . Life without limits.”

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, Friday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks. For tickets and more information, call 805-449-2700 or visit www.bapacthousandoaks.com.

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy is performed with permission of Lucasfilm Ltd. All “Star Wars” elements are property of Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.