March 31, 2016

GRAND PRAIRIE, TX Review

I’m a Trekkie, having grown up watching first The Original Series and then every permutation thereafter. I also appreciate live classical music, spending several evenings a year enjoying the Dallas Symphony at the Meyerson Symphony Center. I also like ice cream and pie, but I don’t care for one atop the other. So I wasn’t certain that I would enjoy these two media simultaneously as much as I enjoyed them individually, Trek-themed or not.

To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Let’s say, “pleasantly blown away.”

There’s something about being surrounded by several thousand like-minded fans – knowing that for the next two hours, you’re among close friends – that puts you in the Roddenberry spirit: we’re all Brothers and Sisters in Trek.

My friend and I decided immediately upon winning the Facebook contest that we would “cosplay” it up. He went as Kirk, and I as Spock, complete with Ears and Tricorder. We assumed that we would be just two of many in a sea of Trek-themed costumery, and while there were a fair number of fans in uniform, we quickly found that ours stood apart. In our backstage meeting with the thoroughly engaging conductor, Mr. Nicholas Buc, he commented that he had seen cosplay at these events before, but this was the first time he’d seen “the ears.” (He was even more surprised by the sight of my new Blackberry smartphone when I pulled it out for a selfie, remarking that it “made sense” that Spock would carry the least exciting device on the market.)

In short, my friend and I stuck out in a good way. No fewer than a dozen fans came up to us to have their pictures made with Kirk and Spock. Strangers, who were nothing like strangers, boldly approached and made conversation as if we were old friends. When we went to our seats, they whispered and pointed. At one point in the show I took out my Blackberry for a photo of the stage and lamented aloud the poor auto-focusing; a chorus of twittering laughter came from behind me, with one man chortling, “Spock uses a Blackberry!” As I said before: Brothers and Sisters in Trek.

And the show itself? Simply enchanting from start to finish. The two hours flew by, never ceasing to captivate at any point. I had worried that I might become impatient with the brevity of the video cuts, wishing to see the stories in their entirety. But this didn’t happen. The musical numbers were thematic, each one accompanied by a carefully and cleverly edited montage of scenes from Star Trek movies and television. Themes that might be given such names as “Progress Toward the Stars,” “Human Resiliency,” even simply, “Klingons” (which may have been my surprise favorite), punctuated by the rousing and flawless accompaniment of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

The high point for me, which I won’t spoil, was the playing of one of my favorite iconic The Original Series moments in its entirety. The program was dramatic, contemplative at times, and often very funny: the theater erupted in laughter over a clip of an exasperated Bones telling Spock, “I’m trying to thank you, you pointed-eared hobgoblin!” The newly-emotive Data from Generations was also a crowd-pleaser. Underneath the large video screen, Mr. Buc conducted with flair on a set built to look like the Enterprise bridge, from which a dazzling display of lights punctuated the music at all of the right moments.

In summary, if you’re even a casual fan of Star Trek, then Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage will be an unforgettable evening. And if you’re a lifelong fanatic with a pair of foam ears on his nightstand, then you should be driven to see this before it’s gone like a Vulcan suffering from Pon Farr.