Monday, March 5, 2012
Theater review: One Man Lord of the Rings and FTP Comedy at Out of the Loop Fringe Festival in Addison
A master of his craft presents an equally masterful story.
Lord of the Rings fans take note – now you don't have to sit in front of your TV or laptop all day to get your Tolkien fix. Charles Ross has condensed those 11 hours and 23 minutes of film into the most spectacular, often mind-blowing 65-minute performance uniquely entitled One Man Lord of the Rings (which finished its run March 4 at Addison Theatre Center).
Headlining the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, Charles Ross – actor, playwright, and self-proclaimed "professional geek" – meticulously watched the LOTR trilogy a couple thousand times. Perfecting the vocal accents and movements of the lead actors, he gloriously plays an amalgamation of 42 characters (and armies of tens of thousands!), as well as including all the theme music and sound effects. Ross deftly switches from Frodo to Sam to Gandalf, to Gollum ("My precious..."), then army legions, Orcs, sounds of wind, water, and so much more. To witness such precise attention to detail, such obviously beloved storytelling from an actor is a breathtaking rarity.
Now for those who are not Tolkien fans or have only seen one or two of the films (and not read the books), fear not. I've seen the films but am not an aficionado myself and Ross's performance is still engrossing. As it turns out, several in the audience (after asking for applause as to who knew the stories) had never seen or read the Ring Trilogy. I believe they enjoyed it all the same if only for the spectacle of this one-man tornado.
What's most fun about his performance is his inside jokes about the film (he makes great fun of Orlando Bloom's long white hair and Ian McKellan's wizened stance), and his asides to the audience. Needing to take a few quick water break before continuing, he pauses to talk to the audience, see how they're doing, asks questions, plays with them a bit, and then dives right back in. During Friday's performance, Ross was singing a bit of the film's music when a front row audience member got up and left. Without missing a beat, Ross shifted his song to include the exiting person, wishing him well and good ...
One Man Lord of the Rings, for all its electrifying theatricality, would only be half as good without the assistance of Ross's stage manager who masterfully works the many light cues, and blends sound effects so essential to bring out each character's vocal nuances, making the performance that much more astounding.
Ross was a headliner at the OOTL Festival two years ago with his infamous One Man Star Wars Trilogy. While not seeing that performance, I am so grateful I ventured over to Addison to be a part of a rare moment of pure theatre.
If only to watch a master of his craft present an equally masterful story, please try to see the last performances of Charles Ross in One Man Lord of the Rings. One hour in the dark was never more enjoyable (don't go there!) or captivating.
FTP Comedy: Occupy Loop: Making 1% of our audience laugh 99% of the time
Making a welcome reappearance at the OOTL festival, FTP Comedy is proud to present Occupy Loop: Making 1% of our audience laugh 99% of the time (playing once more on March 11). Getting all political this time, FTP leaves no candidate or political "talking head" unturned. Everyone gets equal abuse, be they GOP, Democratic, Liberal or "Tea Party Poopers."
FTP performs equal parts scripted skits and improvisation, taking ideas from the audience and having a group member guess the storyline using those suggestions. One of my favorite was a skit with members of the second most famous Tea Party with Mad Hatter Herman Cain ("did someone call for more pizza?"), March Hare Rick Perry, sleeping Dormouse Ron Paul, and Sarah Palin as the gun-toting, White Rabbit-killing Alice – so very appropriately disturbing and hilarious.
Audience participation is encouraged, be it with shouted ideas, by applause when the guesser gets close to the right word or phrase, or being "puppet strings," moving two comedians around as they improvise a situation. It's so much more fun to be the "architects" of this comedy troupe's creations.
In their bio, FTP Comedy always mentions they are available for private events "in hopes of raising money for their favorite charity – After College There's Only Restaurant Service." The next best thing to a Federal bailout is to subsidize these actors of comedy by taking in their last performance at the OOTL festival. Believe me, they're more funny than Rick Parry's gaffes!
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
- Theater review: Locally written Sons of Bennett is an ambitious, but flawed, effort
- Will the Andersons put their $1.5 million estate on the market after a high-profile split?
- No game: Dallas has the second lowest amount of sex in the U.S.
- Theater review: The Futility of Hope could be a landmark play if it took itself more seriously
- First look: New Dallas cinema seriously upgrades dinner-and-a-movie