February 25, 2016

Hamilton, ON Review

Space: The final frontier” and space is exactly what filled the brilliant, powerful and moving music of the Star Trek franchise. Along with the excitement revolving around the upcoming Star Trek: Beyond motion picture, the new television series, the 50th Anniversary Cruise and the conventions, The Ultimate Voyage 50th Anniversary Concert Tour stands alone as a unique and brilliant way to celebrate 50 years of Star Trek through one of its most powerful elements, music.

Gene Roddenberry’s timeless creation has brought us a half-century of magic, wonder, mystery, and excitement—a journey second to none through the exploration of ourselves and the unknown. Composers such as Alexander Courage, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Jay Chattaway, Cliff Eidelman, and Michael Giacchino among many others elevated the journey with the music that made us smile, laugh, and at times tear up.

Now CineConcerts, CBS, and Paramount Pictures continue as representatives of that journey with The Ultimate Voyage 50th Anniversary Concert Tour. Principal Conductor and Producer Justin Freer and Writer/Producer Brady Beaubien have done a wonderful job of selecting the music from the afore mentioned composers as well as visual elements from the Star Trek franchise that have resonated with us and moved us.

I was fortunate enough and humbled to win the review contest for my city of Hamilton, Ontario where I attended the performance at Hamilton Place Theatre. I was greeted and taken through the theatre and backstage by the Tour Manager where I had a chance to view the empty theatre and the stage. I could hear the hum of a ship and the familiar bridge chirping sound effect that provided background sounds to greet the fans as they entered the theatre. I also had a chance to view the stage setup and all its technical aspects.

The Tour Manager also discussed the background of this production as well as CineConcerts’ and Freer’s previous works. It was informative and gave me a greater appreciation of what goes into a production like this and the people who put it together and make it run. My tour ended with a meet-and-greet with Associate Conductor Nicholas Buc where we discussed our mutual fondness of Star Trek, the composers, and the music of Star Trek. Both the Tour Manager and Nicholas were wonderful people and I looked forward to their proceeding performance.

The theatre began filling with people, people who were all there to celebrate one thing we all shared in common: a deep, powerful, and possibly unnatural love of Star Trek. The show opened with the theme from the 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which is recognized by most as the official theme of Star Trek. A timeless piece which has been utilized throughout the franchise and most recently as the end title for the 2002 movie Star Trek Nemesis.

The piece, written by Jerry Goldsmith, is a timeless score and will remain so—an appropriate opening for the show. It is proud and noble and has always been my favourite. Some of the more notable parts of the production were use of the scenes from a Deep Space Nine episode, “In the Pale Moonlight,” and “Horizon” from Star Trek Enterprise. Both dealt with the human condition and personal challenges. “In the Pale Moonlight” centred on a memorable and slightly haunting personal log by Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), the only time in Star Trek where an actor/character broke the fourth wall. The scene from the Enterprise episode “Horizon” focused on Captain Johnathan Archer (Scott Bakula) consoling Ensign Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) when he learns of his father’s death. Both of those scenes were only two of the countless pieces from Star Trek that demonstrate the strength of this franchise, its timelessness, and examining the human condition. There was also a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, which I thought was very appropriate and a respectful. The performance was a little over two hours long with a standing ovation by the entire audience as well as an encore performance.

The musical aspect was wonderful and quite moving—to hear 50 years of Star Trek music live, brought to life by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, was a delight and sent shivers up my spine countless times. One could see and the hear the passion from the orchestra during the performance and that their appreciation for orchestral music is absolute, regardless of its form.

The visual aspects were also fantastic. The stage was made to look futuristic using design elements from Star Trek starships. At different points of the show, the stage was lit with different colours: red for the Klingons, green for the Borg. The lighting added a visual element to further draw the audience in. Presented on a 40-foot-wide screen surrounded by a star field backdrop, we were presented with a constant montage of every incarnation of Star Trek, from the television series to the movies. There were points where the production focused on each individual series as well as enemies. At times the presentation was powerful, comical, and moving, and in just the right amounts.

Michael Dorn, who played the character Worf in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, was a surprising and delightful choice to narrate this production. Michael narrated the brief points between each piece talking about the impact and meaning of Star Trek. The voice elements from the various episodes and movies were also present which only enriched the experience and once again demonstrated the deep, powerful, and meaningful words found throughout this 50-year legacy.

The live orchestral music, the stage effects, visuals on the screen, and narration were a brilliant amalgamation which all added to the overall substance. Any Star Trek fan who attended this performance will realize that it was a labour of love assembled by the fans for the fans. As a person with 20 years of musical experience and who has been a Star Trek fan even longer, I highly recommend this show to any fan who has the opportunity to see it. If it comes to your city, don’t miss it!

Written by: Chadwick Adams