The Lord of the stage

The Lord of the stage

Comedian Charles Ross tells Chris Lau about his one-man version of Tolkien's famous trilogy

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Performing The Lord of the Rings trilogy by yourself is quite a feat, but comedian Charles Ross pulls it off.
Performing The Lord of the Rings trilogy by yourself is quite a feat, but comedian Charles Ross pulls it off.
Photo: ABA Productions
Loyal fans can speak for hours about The Lord of the Rings trilogy, eagerly going over every detail of the books and films. But for some, sitting through the 10-hour movie trilogy would be painful.

Canadian comedian Charles Ross wants everyone to be able to enjoy this ring-destroying quest, so he has put together One Man Lord of the Rings - a one-hour, light-hearted stand-up comedy act packed with action taken from the movies.

"It's The Lord of the Rings without any costumes, sets, props, or big Hollywood actors," says Ross, who will be staging eight shows until Sunday, at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. "It's a very fast-paced show. It's kind of one big highlight that builds to a crescendo, then to another crescendo, then to another crescendo."

Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, the literary trilogy was most famously turned into a movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, in 2001, by New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson. The fascinating story set in New Zealand's scenic landscapes quickly got people hooked. A year later came The Two Towers, and in 2003 the finale, The Return of the King, was released.

But not everyone was impressed. Some found the relationships and politics among the hobbits, dwarfs, wizards, and more too complicated. And the poetic - but hard to understand - language made it difficult for some moviegoers to stay focused throughout each of the three instalments.

Ross' show is far more accessible; he loosens up by poking fun at the series.

Legolas the elf - played by British actor Orlando Bloom in the films - is one of his targets, he says. "He's so perfect all the time. In the middle of a battle, his hair is still perfect," he adds. Even when everyone is covered in blood, mud and gore, he days, "Legolas still looks like he just walked out of a model shoot, taking pictures for Vogue or something".

Ross admits the idea of him playing 45 characters with no help is quite absurd, and the fact that people are coming to watch him makes it even funnier. But it's not all fun and games. To pack all that material into an hour-long show, Ross first had to watch all the movies.

He then started writing the script by recalling the films from memory. This helped him filter out the unimportant details, while keeping the main storyline intact.

Since it's a one-man show, Ross also has to imitate the voices of all 45 characters - from Gollum's coarse shrieks to Gandalf's firm statements - all by himself.

He devotes extra attention to characters' tones and mannerisms when they speak, he says.

During the epic battle scenes, the multi-talented artist - whose last reputable work was One Man Star Wars - even uses his own voice to create the monstrous stomping noise of armies closing in.

His show has been so successful that Ross had a surprise visit from British actor Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the great wizard, Gandalf, in The Lord of the Rings.

"He came to see the show [in Vancouver, Canada] and he loved it. He then stuck around and we talked for about an hour after the show was done," says Ross. McKellen was shooting X-Men in the city at the time. Ross says he learned some great lessons from the veteran actor.

One Man Lord of the Rings only started a year ago - Ross ran One Man Star Wars on and off for almost 12 years. But the comedian has already started thinking about where he should be heading next.

"I really like how The Hobbit has been going so far. If it continues, I think One Man Hobbit will more than likely be what I'd do next," he says.

For more details, visit www.onemanlotr.com

 

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