It takes a special sort of superhero for one actor to vault from character to character, highlighting Iron Man’s armor, Captain America’s shield, the Incredible Hulk’s rage, Thor’s biceps, Thanos’s chin and Black Widow’s butt – among personalities that have leaped from the pages of comic books to the big screen. But doing it all on his own has become routine for Charlie Ross, who also has toured “One Man” versions of Strangers Things, Lord of the Rings, Pride & Prejudice, Batman, Harry Potter and the initial show that brought him fame, One Man Star Wars.
Ross will be the sole attraction at 7:30 p.m. March 25 in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater at Saint John’s University with his parody production of One Man Avengers. It will be the first time he has performed at Saint John’s or the College of Saint Benedict.
His path to the stage began where he grew up among about 10,000 people in Nelson, British Columbia, 25 miles north of the Washington state border. The town was featured in the 1987 film Roxanne, and it was there that Ross discovered theater. He says his drama teachers saved his sanity and acting gave him a place to focus his energy.
That energy is boundless, and his approach to acting and comedy might cause some to question his sanity, but Ross – who graduated in 1997 from the University of Victoria with a theater degree – has carved a unique niche by writing, performing and touring solo shows all over the world for more than 20 years.
“It’s nice to get a gig that carries on,” Ross told the Spruce Grove (Alberta) Examiner before a recent show. “I was always looking for something I loved and was also equally loved by large groups of people. Obviously, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to find people who love Marvel just as much as I do, or even more.”
Ross calls his performances “frenetic” and “frequently nerdy.” One Man Avengers came about after the last of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (almost two dozen in total over 11 years) was released in 2019. A dedicated fan, he chronologically retells the story of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame through voice and body movement.
But you don’t have to be a mega Avengers fan to appreciate his humor. Even casual viewers who barely know the characters quickly catch on to his visual portrayals, and audiences fill in any blanks with their imagination even when there is no costume, set or props.
“I’ve always said this is a weird convergence of nerdism, but there is something here for everyone,” Ross said.
Tickets, ranging from $8 for CSB and SJU students to $34 for regular admission, are available at https://www.csbsju.edu/fine-arts/performances. The show is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board operating support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.