The Force is strong with this one 

The Force is strong in Charles Ross. It must be, considering the 32-year-old Canadian actor has a task of epic proportions ahead of him.

Ross isn’t exactly the next Jedi incarnate set to battle the forces of evil in a galaxy far, far away.

He is, however, a self-professed dork on a mission to bring the original "Star Wars" trilogy to life onstage without the help of, well, anyone.

As the sole force behind the "One-Man Star Wars Trilogy," which opens Tuesday and runs through March 11 at San Francisco’s Post Street Theatre, Ross takes on the lofty job of condensing George Lucas’ space opera into a hour long romp whereby he assumes the role of just about every major character from blue-eyed farm boy Luke Skywalker to the archetype of evil himself, Darth Vader, without any costumes, music or special effects.

Watching Ross’ performance isn’t unlike watching a hyperactive 8-year-old reenact his favorite parts of a movie. Dressed in all black, the actor morphs from one character to the next as he fights both sides of a light saber battle, flies invisible ships and, when he manages to catch a breath, he hums the score.

So, what exactly inspired such madness?

Unemployment.

Sick of searching for work after acting gigs wrapped, Ross decided to put the state of his employment in his own hands. In 2001, he penned the one-man show without even having to revisit the films.

"How well I know `Star Wars’ is pretty scary," he says. "I watched the film a silly amount of times as a kid, particularly the first film."

As a child growing up on an isolated farm near British Columbia, Ross was relegated to endless hours in front of the boob tube for entertainment. The limited number of stations led to him watching his favorite VHS cassette repeatedly. And by repeatedly, Ross estimates he’s watched the first "Star Wars" film alone about 400 times. The other two installments amount to about 50 viewings apiece.

"I like to think of myself as a well-adjusted person, but it is such as odd idea for someone to condense a trilogy of movies down to an hour. I wasn’t convinced that this idea would even work," he says.

So far Ross’ shtick has worked – he’s performed the show over 1,000 times across the world and has even received the blessing from Lucas, who granted the one-man show official licensing.

While he isn’t quite sure if Lucas has seen his performance, he certainly doesn’t blame him if he hasn’t.

"Let’s face it, George Lucas is a busy guy," he says. "I’msure he has more important things to do than watch some guy do a bad impression of Yoda."

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy

Where: Post Street Theatre, 450 Post St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 5 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays; closes March 11

Tickets: $37 to $47

Contact: (415) 771-6900, www.poststreettheatre.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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