Special to El Observador
I have a tee shirt that simply states “Not all who wander are lost”. Any J.R.R. Tolkien fan would recognize this quote from “Lord of The Rings”. Any LoTRian, Ringer, or Tolkienist will also recognize, in just over one hour, the genius that is Charles Ross’ ‘One-Man Lord of The Rings’ production at The San Jose Repertory Theater showing through July 29.
Charles Ross has returned to The Rep with another unique and energetic show, after delighting audiences with his’ One-Man Star Wars’ last year. Simply dressed in black coveralls and black five-fingered shoes, Ross leapt across the first movie, “Fellowship of the Ring”, with the speed of a racehorse. His gestures, voices, and sound effects immediately drew my attention and I forgot I was watching just one actor.
While stopping to take gulps of water and catch his breath (singing that his throat felt like sawdust), he polled the nearly full house on the actual knowledge of LOTR. Our audience answered enthusiastically with applause and cheers that we had seen all three movies, including the extended versions (some all in one day), read the books, and yes, some of us had seen none of the above. More laughter ensued as he asked why we’d even be there, but he appreciated the support of his theatrics. He quipped it was like “trying to teach a cat checkers”. Anyone in that unwatched and unread category wasn’t made to feel stupid, but instead was thanked and appreciated for supporting live theater.
Immediately, he continued into the next films, “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King”. He did a sing-song “change the DVD” just as one would do at home in-between chapters. The stage was all his, all night, and our attention was all his. His sound effects were so brilliant that I had to remind myself that he was making them, and had no soundtrack. Mike Schaldemose’s lighting was his only stage companion in his non-stop portrayal of 42 characters.
Ross moved across the stage so fast that at one point he ripped the knee of his pants. He paused to comment about it, and threw a tack backstage that he happened to notice when sitting onstage. I didn’t go a minute without laughing. I missed some jokes ,possibly because they went over my head, or because I was still laughing with everyone else. His energy is contagious and, whatever coffee he drinks, the company should contact him immediately for sponsorship.
Ross knows his way around Middle-Earth so much that even Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellan, has seen the show, and spoke with him afterwards, giving his upmost support to it. Don’t be late to this show, as it starts and ends right on time. If you happen to sit in the first row of the Orchestra seating however, be aware that you may be a recipient of Ross’ saliva. The Canadian is so enthusiastically passionate about his acting that he even joked about his butt sweat from sitting on stage.
The beginning of Tolkien’s poem is “All that is gold does not glitter”. It should be followed with an asterisk with Charles Ross’ name, for he does a 24 karat gold performance in his show that cannot be missed by any Lord of the Rings fan.