Charles Ross was a child of the ’80s, addicted to adventure movies and pop culture. His love of these things led him to creating the “One Man Star Wars Trilogy” show, an international hit that he’s performed thousands of times in more than 180 cities across four continents.
The show was a parody of the movies, which he did complete with costumes, props and dialogue. The idea came to him after seeing someone do a solo show about Captain Kirk at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
“This guy totally tapped into this fan base and did an incredible job with it,” Ross said. “The idea of doing something popular and as a one-person show seemed like a great idea to me. One of my friends suggested I do a full-length show on ‘Star Wars,’ and the rest is history.”
Following the show’s success, Ross went on to create similar shows, including “One Man Lord of the Rings,” “One Man Avengers,” “One Man Pride & Prejudice” and “One Man Dark Knight.” His latest is “One Man Stranger Things,” where he single-handedly recreates the first two seasons of the Netflix sensation, complete with all the characters, dialogue, special effects, music & Eggos in a perfect, upside-down show.
“The neat thing about ‘Stranger Things’ is it’s set in a time that is still analogue, when things had greater resonance,” Ross said. “It’s a new story that appeals to those people who did love ‘Star Wars’ and ‘ET,’ but it also has kids in it, so it appeals to a younger set as well.”
Unlike his other successful shows, which were all based on extremely popular movies, the “Stranger Things” show was based on a television show, so he wasn’t sure that it would be as successful as these films that had been global phenomena.
“I just wanted to see if it would work and so far, it has,” Ross said. “It’s a lot more parody, and a lot more music because that’s such an essential part of the television show and it harps back to the ’70s and ’80s, so there was a lot to work with as there so many plot holes in the story to make fun of.”
On Jan. 5, Ross will bring “One Man Stranger Things” to The Birchmere. While he originally only did season one of the show, he added season two last year, condensing each episode into about 5 minutes.
“I smash everything together and I don’t do breaks between the episodes, I just plow right through them all,” he said.
Even before “Stranger Things” appeared on Netflix, Ross was given the opportunity to watch the series in its entirety as he was told that it might be something he would be interested in working with, and he was glad he did.
“I knew early on it had this potential to be something big,” Ross said. “It was exciting to see where it started and where it’s going to.”
Even though season three of the show has been released, Ross felt it would be best to hold off waiting on adding plot points to his one-man show until after season four, so he could incorporate all four seasons together.
“I never created a show that was based on something that was currently developing, so it makes it active and weird and I just hope that every season they put out is fantastic, or else people will lose interest quickly,” Ross said.
Although none of the “Stranger Things” cast has yet to see his show, a schoolmate of Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler on the show, did come recently and told him all about it. Ross is looking forward to performing it in front of them all one day.
“It’s just a matter of doing it at a convention where they will be at one day,” Ross said.
As for his other shows, Anthony Daniels, who has played C3PO in all nine “Star Wars” films, came to see his “One Man Star Wars Trilogy” in November, and was thrilled with it. Ross always appreciates when he gets feedback from those associated with what he parodies.
Up next for Ross will be a “One Man Harry Potter” and he’ll continue doing all his others as needed throughout the year. But for now, the “One Man Stranger Things” seems to be the one people are most interested in.
“If you’ve seen ‘Stranger Things’ once through, this show is for you,” Ross said. “It’s not requiring you to be a ‘Star Wars’ aficionado or a ‘Lord of the Rings’ academic, this is meant to be for the person who has seen it once and I’ll pluck those memories out of your hand. And if you’ve never seen the show, this won’t blow any secrets or surprises.”