By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Musical director and keyboardist James McQuillen is joined on the tiny Stone Cottage stage by cellist Sarah Choi and bass player Lincoln Apeland. With Sheehan perched on a stool at the microphone, the lights catching the sparkle of sequins on her vintage gown, all that's missing is the bottle of Champagne chilling in a bucket tableside. Sheehan's bubbly personality and intoxicating singing will just have to do.
Three years ago Out of the Loop hosted Canadian actor Charlie Ross' One Man Star Wars and they brought him back this year to perform his One Man Lord of the Rings. He's toured the world with this solo production, sanctioned by the Tolkien family and blessed by Ian "Gandalf" McKellen, who caught the show in Vancouver. Using just his voice and body movement, Ross acts out all three LOTR films, including opening credits, in 70 minutes.
Ross is a wonderful mimic, capturing the vocal quirks and physical silhouettes of Gollum, Frodo, Gandalf and other major characters. But he talks fast — has to get it all in — and sometimes it's hard to hear his funny asides, like when he ends a big scene and says under his breath, "Change the DVD."
On opening night at Loop (Ross performed only the first weekend), the actor seemed tired and thirsty, stopping three times to drain bottles of water. There were microphone problems that seemed to throw Ross' rhythm off. At one point, he lost his place in the script and had to look up at his stage manager in the balcony and ask what his next line was. Talk about awkward.