Chat with Charles “One Man Show” Ross

Charles Ross as Yoda

Charles Ross as Yoda

The first thing I wondered about Charlie Ross is how on earth does someone so tall manage to carry off such fantastic impressions of tiny people such as the Star Wars Trilogy’s Yoda and the Lord Of The Rings’ hobbits? Without costumes or props? The answer to folding up like that, apparently, is yoga – quite safe to try it at home, kids, but don’t rush it (you might get stuck in that position).

 

Having prepared myself by reading the excellent article on HowStuffWorks.com (How the One Man Star Wars Trilogy Works), I enjoyed engaging Ross in a discussion of how he has progressed from the early days of the concept, when he and his friend and director T.J. Dawe moved from a sort of Star Wars impressions parlour/frisbee game to a script and then into a polished 1 hour show that managed to get full Lucasfilm approval (he tells the George Lucas story in this video). He’s fairly relaxed about being now pigeonholed as “That One Man Show guy” because it does, after all, beat being pigeonholed as “that waiter who thinks he’s an actor”.

See One Man Star Wars one last time before Charles Ross switches legends in 2010 to the highly anticipated Australian premiere of his critically acclaimed show – One Man Lord of the Rings.

ONE-MAN STAR WARS™ TRILOGY www.onemanstarwars.com

  • SYDNEY Enmore Theatre
    Wed Nov 11
    7.30pm – Adult $52; Concession $44; Family tickets $175.
    Bookings – enmoretheatre.com.au 9550 3666 & ticketek.com.au 132 849
  • NEWCASTLE Civic Theatre
    Fri 13th Nov
    7.30pm – Adult $52; Concession $44; Family tickets $175.
    Bookings – 4929 1977 ticketek.com.au 132 849
  • CANBERRA Playhouse Theatre
    Sat 14 Nov
    3pm & 7.30pm – Adult $52; Concession $44; Family tickets $175.
    Bookings – www.canberratheatre.org.au 02 6275 2700

OMSW also has shows in Brisbane 15/11, Melbourne 19-21/11 and Adelaide 17/11.

There is also a sneak preview of One Man Lord of the Rings at Sydney’s Comedy Store on Thursday 12 Nov.

A thousand perils, sixty minutes, nine companions.

One Man to do it all.

chross-omlotr-ring

Ross’ fascination with both Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings came in childhood – one by film and the other by the book. Back then, it was Lord of the Rings that seemed easier to roleplay out in the yard of the family farm, but not as many other people knew the story. Once the Peter Jackson movies came out that suddenly changed – Rings was back in the vanguard of pop culture again. Having loved the epic for so long, it seemed like the obvious successor to the success of his Star Wars show, but then came the legal standoff between the Tolkien Estate trustees and New Line Cinema, which meant that all sorts of smaller Rings projects such as Ross’ proposed show were left in limbo for several years, waiting to see how the conflict between the two was resolved.

But now Ross has been freed to bring his second labour of love to the stage (and have a bit of a change after the last few years of non-stop Star Wars), and has been able to perform for the Tolkien estate trustees and also in front of Sir Ian McKellen, with whom he hit it off to the extent that McKellen has offered him some career advice on several occasions, so that he’s now able to casually drop an “as Ian McKellen said to me” into the conversation. That’s pretty cool.

It’s inevitable that at some time the G word – geek – gets mentioned. After all, the work required to distill two lengthy epics down into punchy 1 hour shows requires an unusual, some would say eccentric, level of dedication. Ross has heard the word often, and has a not-quite-a-rant about how a consuming enthusiasm for something unusual gets mocked while a consuming enthusiasm for baseball or football statistics, or the latest designer plumbing fittings, is seen as mainstream (maybe a bit boring, but not ridiculous). After listening to people droning on and on about racehorses all week, he quite obviously has a very good point here.

Over the years Ross has speculated/joked about someday doing a One Man Matrix, or a One Man Star Trek, or (my personal favourite, and one for which I made a very strong and I think compelling argument) One Man Pride & Prejudice, which would of course have to be the 1995 Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth version, complete with wet white shirt moment – though Ross seemed far more interested in the comic possibilities of Alison Steadman’s characterisation of Mrs Bennet. At around about this stage Emma Thompson’s name was mentioned and we did a simultaneous impression of that last Elinor/Edward gasp of realisation from Sense and Sensibility, after which the interview seemed to have nowhere further to go.

It was a pleasure to meet someone with such an obvious love of his source material and devotion to intense performance. Having only seen a few short video clips of his work on stage, I’m looking forward to seeing the whole two epic digests next week, after which I will probably have to watch about 17 hours of movies again in order to crossmatch all those striking moments. Then I will reward myself with a Janeite fest of P&P and S&S and imagine what Ross might do with that material. Because I am a geek like that.

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