Lord of the Rings flies solo
One-man show delivers unique take on epic trilogy
Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 06:00 am
When Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy emerged, it paved the way for a return to big screen fantasy. Cutting through the hype, many who revered the Tolkien epic created their own blueprint.
The 2012 release of The Hobbit partially satiated the obsession for larger-than-life fantasy. However any fans still hungering for a Tolkien fix are invited to visit Middle-earth through One Man Lord of the Rings running Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Arden Theatre.
In this solo show, talented Canadian actor Charles Ross has condensed 11 hours of Academy Award winning film into a 70-minute performance. He singlehandedly performs the vocal accents and mannerisms of nearly 50 characters.
“It really is my doing an homage of Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson style. But the jokes are my own. I want to celebrate my love of it, and the jokes are made in the best spirit possible,” Ross said during a telephone interview from his Victoria home.
As an example of jokes, Ross gently mocks Orlando Bloom’s character Legolas, the fellowship’s sexy elfish archer wigged in long, platinum locks.
“I have him combing his hair all the time. It was just a way of indicating one character from the other,” Ross says.
Born in Prince George, B.C., Ross moved with his family to a farming area outside of Nelson when he was a youngster. His house received no television or radio reception.
“We lived near power lines and they scrambled everything. Our only entertainment was a video of Star Wars and Blue Lagoon,” he chuckles.
For a kid, the choice of video was a no-contest. For hours he watched Star Wars, immersing himself in a fictional galaxy, cheering the Jedi warriors as they battled their evil counterpart Darth Vader.
Finding not only enjoyment, but also a degree of comfort in absorbing this new mythology, Ross unknowingly laid the groundwork for future theatrical endeavours. In 2001 he débuted One Man Star Wars Trilogy in Toronto and successfully toured it worldwide.
The previous year Peter Jackson premiered The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, in which a meek hobbit from The Shire and eight companions start a perilous journey to destroy a malevolent ring and the evil lord Sauron.
A fan of Tolkien’s fantasies, Ross initially feared the New Zealand director would “screw-up” the series.
“I didn’t know Peter from anybody. But after the first 20 minutes of watching the first film, I changed the way I view film. I saw hope in the story. I already knew the story inside out, but it was exciting to see how they were telling the story in a new medium. It exceeded any expectations I had.”
After Jackson’s awe-inspiring film series, it was difficult for Ross to watch films with the same frame of mind.
“I tend to have a different eye when watching film. If it doesn’t tell a story, it’s a franchise. In Star Wars and Lord of the Rings there was a task – to destroy the ring and accompanying evil.”
Ross’ own more freewheeling version of Lord of the Rings premiered in 2004. It’s directed by longtime friend and colleague T.J. Dawe (Star Wars Trilogy).
An initial script was written and refined.
“A lot is improvised. If you repeat something again, you know it will stay,” Ross says. “I tweak it and make little changes all the time. Besides, it’s my show and the performance is in the moment. I love the fluidity and lightness. It’s formal and at the same time informal.”
While fans of the movies and books will enjoy this spoof, some online reviewers do not recommend this show for those unfamiliar with the tale.