One-man 'Star Wars' coming to New London

The galaxy far far away will be getting closer when Darth Vader and his storm troopers congregate at The Garde Arts Center in New London.
What brings the merciless empire to the earthbound Morroccan-themed arts center Nov. 14? The “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy,” written and performed by Charles Ross. His performance, which pays homage to the “Star Wars” films, has been hailed as hilarious.
The imperialists are comprised of an international group of enthusiastic “Star Wars” fans who come to Ross’ shows — even driving the extra miles to get to more remote parts of the country.
“It’s adding an ambiance that would be hard to get otherwise ... it brings an air of authenticity,” Ross said of the costumed guests.
For this show, the imperialists are members of the 501st Connecticut Garrison. Because of an arrangement with “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, they only accept donations for charity when they attend events. The appearance at The Garde will raise money for the Tommy Toy Fund.
The Connecticut Garrison has 40-45 members, said the group’s publicist, Gary Manion, of Vernon. To join, members must have a costume to organization specifications. The majority of costumes are storm troopers and are hand crafted using molds with different material.
One of a kind
The enthusiasm of “Star Wars” fans can be attributed to the movie making such an impression for its time, Manion said.
“It was one of a kind when it came out — it was something that drew you into it,” he said.
Unlike the garrison, Ross will be armed with props and will be devoid of special effects on stage — just him and the 40 characters he channels to convey the gist of the “Star Wars” saga.
“I didn’t see my career going in this direction,” Ross said, who trained as an actor in the classics of Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. But when he was a young boy growing up on a farm — with no TV — the most compelling VHS tape he owned was “Star Wars,” and it was the one he always popped in.
“The story appeals to the little guy that’s like Luke Skywalker,” Ross said.
Skywalker, a disenfranchised farm boy, discovers a hidden lineage that makes him a Jedi knight. At almost warp speed, he is thrust from being a nobody to holding the fate of the galaxy in his palm.
“He’s kind of whisked away — he loses his home but finds his place in the universe and discovers that, for a moment, he is the most important person in the entire galaxy,” Ross said.
“Star Wars” broke ground for special effects and costumes, something Ross doesn’t try to replicate. Yet it is his very effort to mime and act his way through the saga that contributes to the show’s humor.
“You’re taking in a huge spectacle and you make a spectacle of yourself trying to recreate that. I’m not tring to be anything I can’t actually be. The audience fills in the blank with their imagination and memory of the film,” Ross said.
Luke Skywalker, whom he somewhat resembles, is one of Ross’ favorites — but not because he’s a hero. Rather, Ross likes to portray the whiny side of this character. He also enjoys the emperor, whom he describes as a “big rotten jerk.”
Even though it’s been seen a million times before, fans can’t seem to get enough of “Star Wars” — to the credit of the story itself.
“The thing about a good story is it never gets old, because it’s told so well and makes you happy to hear it,” Ross said.

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