Although he’s come a long way from his alma mater stage, Charlie Gange’s latest show is taking place close to home.
As one of the stars of New Village Arts Theatre’s “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” the Torrey Pines High School alum is hoping his Carmel Valley friends and family will make the trip to Carlsbad.
“They’re my biggest support,” he said. “Whenever they’re there, the show goes a little better, for sure.”
Inspired by Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and the 1950s science fiction film “Forbidden Planet,” the musical features special effects along with rock ’n’ roll classics such as “Good Vibrations,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” The show opened July 25 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 6.
“It’s super fun,” Gange said. “It’s like the campiest, cheesiest, quirkiest musical ever.”
Although Gange, 22, grew up playing music — he learned how to play piano at 7 and guitar at 10 — he didn’t appear in his first musical until he was a sophomore in high school. At one time, his love of performing on the field surpassed his love of performing on the stage.
“You name it, I played it,” said Gange, who was a member of baseball, basketball, football, soccer and swimming teams while growing up. “With that, I always thought musical theater was lame. I didn’t want to do it because I wanted to be tough and cool and play sports.”
Gange changed his mind about musical theater after seeing Johnny Depp in the film adaptation of the musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
He fondly recalled later auditioning for the musical at his school one day after football practice, still dressed in his uniform. He landed the lead role.
“I did it and I absolutely fell in love with it,” Gange said. “I think I always knew I wanted to act and perform. I just didn’t really know that there was no limitation to that.”
After his breakthrough role, Gange landed a part in “The Who’s Tommy” in his senior year. In addition to the two roles, Gange performed original music and covers at lunch and during school events. Along with other theater students, he also performed a song at his graduation.
“It was a really good feeling to be accepted for what I loved doing,” he said.
After graduating from Torrey Pines in 2011, Gange studied music at the University of Oregon.
“It was nice just sitting in a forest, finding a log and playing guitar on a river — something you can’t really get in Carmel Valley,” he said. “It was a really cool place to do that for a couple years.”
After two years in Oregon, Gange returned to San Diego. He is in his final semester at San Diego State University, where he expects to earn his bachelor’s degree in music later this year.
While studying music, Gange continues to sharpen his skills on and off the stage.
Since high school, he has starred in shows by ACT San Diego, Flat Seven Productions, Diversionary Theatre and Moonlight Stage Productions. He also plays in a rock band called Sights and Sages, formed in 2014.
This is his time, working with New Village Arts Theatre. As Cookie, he plays the guitar throughout most of the show and has an “epic guitar solo” called, “She’s Not There,” which was the debut single by the British rock band The Zombies.
“It’s a fun part of the show,” said Gange, who described his character as timid but sweet. “It’s cool, and it’s supposed to express my inner angst.”
“Return to the Forbidden Planet” runs through Sept. 6 at New Village Arts Theatre, at 2787 State St., Suite B, in Carlsbad. For information or to buy tickets, call 760-433-3245 or visit www.newvillagearts.org.
“We’re all having a blast and the audience is having a blast, too,” Gange said. “It’s a really good time.”
For more about Gange, visit www.charliegange.com.