When creating his One Man Stranger Things parody, Charles Ross said he wanted the challenge of creating “something that’s not stuck in people’s minds for decades.”
Ross, who has done one-man Star Wars, Avengers, Batman and Lord of the Rings productions, will be bringing his One Man Stranger Things show to Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall (13450 104th Ave.) on Jan. 9, 2020.
Ross, who lives in Victoria, has played in off-Broadway in New York, London’s West End and at the Sydney Opera House.
The city’s website says Ross “single-handedly fuses all the characters, dialogue, special effects, music and Eggos of Stranger Things into one superb, upside down show.”
Ross told the Now-Leader that he’s tried for almost 20 years now to reduce these big stories into parodies and homages.
“If you go at the pace that people watch things now, there’s so much content out there,” he said. “You have to keep in mind that it won’t be popular forever, and we — myself and my director TJ (Dawe) — we sort of struck while the iron was hot and made this show right after the first season had come out.
“I guess it’s just me trying to dip my toe into the modern way that we absorb media.”
Ross has been performing One Man Stranger Things for more than two years now.
Stranger Things is the hit sci-fi horror show on Netflix, set in the 1980s.
He said the show initially started with just using the first season, but has since grown to include the second.
The plan moving forward, Ross said, is to incorporate season three (which was released this past summer) and four once the latter is released. Season four is currently in production.
“As long as Stranger Things continues to be produced, this show could get longer and longer and longer.”
Ross said he first debuted the show at a fringe festival, adding that it’s a “great way to try out new, weird and wacky things.”
“They’re up for something different and it also kind of draws the nerdy types out. It was kind of the perfect place to try it,” he said.
Asked how the response to the show has been, Ross said he gets a lot of repeat audience viewers over the years who have seen his other one-man acts.
“It’s been interesting to hear how people like the fact that there’s a lot of music in my show, in that I’ve made up a lot of songs because my other shows don’t have that. This does,” he said. “There’s the 80s music that’s completely woven into Stranger Things and it became a perfect opportunity to make it a little bit different to suddenly have these songs that would never have appeared in Star Wars or even Lord of the Rings, but it works perfectly here. It keeps it kind of in the line of being parody and being true to the TV show.”
It also doesn’t hurt that one of his favourite parts of the show is the music.
“It really is the music. Getting to do impressions of different singers — not that I’m doing a perfect version of it — but I have particularly enjoyed being Peter Gabriel because it’s ridiculous,” said Ross, referencing a scene from the first season where Gabriel sings a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
“I suddenly have Peter Gabriel showing up at the recovery of the body scene, sort of helping assist the local state police and giving a complete line of BS to the people that are there. It’s just fun to sort of play and do something slightly ridiculous.”
And with that, Ross said doing his one-act shows is “the only time as a performer that you get to have that type of a connection, all-encompassing connection with your audience.”
“In a solo show, especially when you write, the way you perform, the way I perform… I’m talking to the audience in a way that you wouldn’t usually get with any other show. It’s slightly irreverent and people aren’t necessarily used to it,” he said.
“It’s not making people uncomfortable. They don’t have to actually say anything. I am drawing them in, trying to draw out their memories of all these different franchises and I’m not going to let them not make noise back to me. They have to make noise in some form, they have to laugh or boo or whatever.”
The show is about 75 minutes, with no intermission. It’s recommended for ages 12 and up as it contains “mature themes and strong language.”
For tickets, visit surrey.ca/culture-recreation/29751.aspx.