Charles Ross One Man Lord of the Rings, written and performed by Ross and directed by TJ Dawe, is exactly as the title says: Ross reenacts the Lord of the Ring trilogy of films on stage by himself. You may ask yourself, how can one person possibly recreate an effects laden epic, starring dozens of actors and thousands of CG created extras? The answer is: extremely well. Charles is an ingenious mimic of actor’s voices, gestures, and even sound effects. Dressed in black coveralls with an attached microphone and a bare stage he was able to bring across the imagery of the story.
I have only seen the trilogy once. I never read the books, and I’m considered a bit of a novice in the “Middle Earth” cult world of fans. I went with a friend who has not only read the books but has seen the films multiple times. Because of his LOTR expertise, he was better at catching all of the jokes. But we both agreed that Charles hit the major beats and plot points. You don’t need to be an encyclopedia of knowledge on J.R.R. Tolkein to follow along.
Director TJ Dawes set the pacing very quickly so as to encapsulate each film into 20 minutes of action. A lot flies by so quickly that it can be a lot to handle – but I was thoroughly entertained because Ross is charming with a great sense of humor. And I really enjoyed the light banter between ‘films.’
With his astute vocal mimicry, Charles evoked the persona of the films characters like Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, and Gollum. I was freaked out by Gollum in the films, who spent much of it saying, “My precious…my precious…” in a creepy voice. Charles hit that spot on, as were the voices and mannerisms of Frodo and Sam. He even teased about (as my friend explained is a common joke for the diehard fans) the ‘gay undertones’ of the two characters. And at one point, he skipped onstage saying, “Follow your nose..follow your nose.. a complete breakfast” to which some of the audience clapped. Ross broke character for a moment and laughed and said, “Glad some of you got that. I did that joke in China and it went over their heads. It’s good to be back home.”
Watching the show brought back some childhood memories and enhanced the enjoyment. My sister and I traveled a lot as children having to entertain each other in the car or motel rooms. We would each reenact a movie suggested by the other. While we were never be able to do something as detailed as LOTR, I admired his creativity as I thought of my sister twirling around the room as she reenacted Cinderella for me. Charles moved around the stage with ease as produces vocal sound effects for the sword fights, the screech of the flying beasts, or conveying various characters through his posture and hand gestures.
I thoroughly enjoyed Charles Ross’ clever and hysterical performance. After the show, Ross spoke to the audience and gave some background information on how the show was created and he spoke about meeting Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. I left with a smile on my face having been joyfully and thoroughly entertained by Charles Ross and his cast of characters.
Running Time: 70 minutes, with no intermission.
Charles Ross One Man Lord of The Rings played for one night only on January 18, 2014, at The Birchmere – 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, in Alexandria, VA. For future performances at Birchmere, check their website. For future performances of Charles Ross One Man Lord of the Rings, check the show’s website.