If I told you the entire Star Wars mythology could be summed up in a 90-minute production by one man would you believe me?
Actor, comedian and writer Sean Keller is willing to step up to the task for “I-VIII: A One-Man Show,” a solo adaptation of the Star Wars saga covering episodes I through VIII.
Thanks to his humor and spot-on vocal impressions, Keller will portray over 60 different Star Wars characters as he recaps and riffs his way through the prequels, original trilogy and the sequel films.
As an avid, self-proclaimed Star Wars nerd, he said he’s been a fan for as long as he can remember wearing out his grandfather’s VHS tapes before eventually graduating to DVD’s.
“I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. My favorite is Empire [Strikes Back] — it’s just objectively the best one,” Keller said. “The story, the writing, the score. I mean my god, that movie has some of John Williams’ greatest work ever, all in one film.”
Keller will be aided by self-recorded, humorous variations on the films’ soundtracks and original artwork projected behind him as he “travels” to dozens of alien environments.
He said he’s always had a knack for doing impressions, which started out with him mimicking teachers and even leaving prank celebrity voicemails for his friends.
He said he’s done half the voices of the show since he was a kid, and that he and his friends often re-enacted the films with their own unique twists. That childhood activity proved to be the basis for his current show.
“But in this show, while there are some voices that are absolutely film-accurate, others are caricatures. They have to be,” Keller said. “I’ll take a few key components of the character and dial them up to 11. I mean, who do you know that does a really good Mark Hamill impression?”
With the mixed reviews and underwhelming box office expectations for Lucasfilm’s latest entry in the franchise, “Solo,” Keller explains just how serious the fandom takes the newest sequels coming out of the studio the past few years.
“Star Wars is this huge toy box that’s been under the control of one guy for 40 years, and suddenly other great creative minds get to play with it. That sounds great,” Keller said. “The downside to that is, instead of all of these movies continuing to be one guy’s vision, it’s fragmented now.”
It’s also important to note that even though Keller is the only cast member in his production, he does look to others close to him for support and creative advice.
“Most importantly though, I’ve got a director. That was something I knew I needed from Day 1,” Keller said. “Someone who could look at the show as an audience member and see if things read on stage [and] see if pacing needs adjusted.”
He said he doesn’t intend for his production to be a complete reenactment of the films, but that he instead wishes to produce the show in his own vision. He added his director has been helpful in creating a way to put that vision to the stage.
Even though Keller is a life-long Star Wars fan, this is his first time taking this production on the road after finding success in other markets first.
“The show has been so successful in Louisville and has gotten such a positive response, I wanted to see how far I could take it,” Keller said. “If audiences like the show as much as they do in Louisville, I’d love to continue touring it elsewhere, and of course, to come back here [to Columbus]!”
The show takes place at 7:30 p.m. June 27 at the Columbus Funny Bone comedy club. Admission begins at $10 plus fees via the Funny Bone’s website.