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New York Theater

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy

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If you haven't seen the first three films of the "Star Wars" series several times each, then Charles Ross' "One-Man Star Wars Trilogy" might not make much sense. Most of the pleasure in Ross' re-creation of this pop-culture phenomenon is derived from recognition of iconic moments from the films. Clad in a simple black jumpsuit and employing no sets or props, Ross condenses six hours of galactic battles and interplanetary politics into 70 minutes. It's mainly the performer running around the stage imitating Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker, James Earl Jones' Darth Vader, and the rest of the cast; he also re-creates the sound effects of space cruisers and explosions and quotes the dialogue verbatim like an enthusiastic kid. More affectionate satire, such as his gentle mocking of Hamill's lack of thespian depth and the hokey plot contrivances, would have been welcome.

Ross is a likable class clown, but not one who would particularly disturb the teacher. His aim is to pay loving tribute to a boyhood obsession, which he accomplishes with flair. TJ Dawe's direction keeps the action moving at light speed. Mike Schaldemose's lighting design goes far to set the multiple scenes, but too often it leaves Ross in the dark.

If you're a "Star Wars" fan, attending this short bauble will be like sharing fond memories with a fellow enthusiast. If you're not a "Star Wars" fan, the main lesson Back Stage readers can learn from Ross' production was delivered in a post-performance speech: Ross thanked the audience for their shared enjoyment of George Lucas' science fiction saga and urged them to follow their passions no matter what doubters may say. A one-man show retelling "Star Wars" can make it past sci-fi conventions and onto an Off-Broadway stage. It is possible to jump-start your career with an off-center idea. Ross is following it up with a one-man "Lord of the Rings" tribute, which will run in rep with "Star Wars" beginning Sept. 13. May the force be with him.

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