Two one man shows of epic proportions

When Charles Ross was growing up on a farm in Prince George, B.C., there wasn't a whole lot to do on the long winter nights. "When the sun goes down, we weren't out tooling around on the snowmachines, we were stuck inside.

When Charles Ross was growing up on a farm in Prince George, B.C., there wasn’t a whole lot to do on the long winter nights.

“When the sun goes down, we weren’t out tooling around on the snowmachines, we were stuck inside. And we didn’t have any TV reception, any radio reception, we just had videos.”

There were three videos in the Ross family collection. One of them was the original Star Wars.

“I ended up watching the first Star Wars a stupid amount of times. That’s how that kind of got crammed into my head in a very acute sort of way.”

For over a decade now, Ross has made a living travelling around the world performing his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy.

By doing impressions of characters delivering key lines, he is able to cram three full movies into an hour-long show.

“I’ve taken all of the special effects out of it. It’s just me on stage. I don’t use any costumes, set or props, or talent on stage, it’s just me.”

On Thursday he will perform the One-Man Star Wars Trilogy at the Yukon Arts Centre. On Friday he brings the One-Man Lord of the Rings.

Ross calls the performance style a sort of “long-form impression.”

“That sounds absurd when I put it that way. But it surprisingly works. It’s weird. It’s almost like watching an eight-year-old kid but trapped in the body of a 38-year-old man.

“My show is not to be taken seriously at all. It’s, in fact, extremely goofy and fun, and if you’re taking it seriously then there’s something seriously wrong with you.”

The idea first came to life in 2000 when Ross was working on some radio plays for CBC with a couple friends.

They wanted to perform one of the plays for a live audience, but it was under a half hour long. They came up with other short performances to fill out the time.

When he brought the Star Wars idea to his collaborators, he pitched it as a three-man show.

But they saw a different vision. They both said, “‘Why don’t you do it yourself. You just do it.’ And I thought, ‘Well that’s kind of stupid.’ But I had already been doing it sort of on my own anyway.”

So he tried it, and it worked.

“We felt it did better than anything else that evening,” said Ross.

It wasn’t hard for him to pare down the epic trilogy of movies into an hour-long show, said Ross.

He started by just writing down lines from the movie from memory.

In theory, whatever came to him off the top of his head should also be what would resonate with the average fan, said Ross.

“When you reduce the story of Star Wars or the story of Lord of the Rings down to their bare bones, it really is quite a simple story. There’s just a lot of fat on that monster. Once you churn away the fat, the actual lean is just that, it’s quite lean.”

The shows appeal to light fans and mega fans of the movies alike, said Ross. But he also gets people coming out who haven’t seen the movies at all.

“I find that kind of weird, but they probably find my show to be weird. It is odd that they’re there to see it, but it is theatrical. I’ve learned how to change the show, adjust the show, adjust the jokes so it actually reaches a more general audience.”

The One-Man Star Wars Trilogy has been performed by Ross over 3,000 times on four continents and in over 350 cities.

One of the great advantages of the show is that it comes with a built-in fan base just about anywhere in the world.

“I love the fact that from Whitehorse to Sidney, Australia, to Dubai you can still find people that know the films, and that like the story.”

This will be his first time in the Yukon, and the furthest north that Ross has brought any of his shows.

In the early years, he would sometimes get tired of doing the same shows night after night, but now Ross has a philosophical attitude about it, he said.

“I don’t get tired of being able to see the world that I’ve been able to see, and I sure as hell don’t get tired of meeting the people that I’ve been able to meet.

“I don’t even know what I would do if I wasn’t doing this show. I’m not really qualified to do anything else after all these years.”

Ross’s Whitehorse performance of the One-Man Lord of the Rings falls on the opening day of The Hobbit, the latest movie in the franchise. Fans should be able to catch Ross’ show and still make it to a later screening of the new film.

The Hobbit will give the material for Ross’s next one-man show, he said.

One-Man Star Wars plays at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Yukon Arts Centre. One-Man Lord of the Rings is at the same time on Friday.

Tickets are $27 for adults, $17 for children and seniors, $15 for college students and $5 for teenagers.

For both shows, tickets are $50 for adults and $30 for children and seniors.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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