martes, 9 de febrero de 2016


STAR TREK: THE ULTIMATE VOYAGE Docks in MemphisGene Roddenberry had a bold vision in 1964 when he pitched Star Trek to NBC as a "Wagon Train to the Stars." The first episode aired on Sept. 8, 1966. It was a show with unknown actors, and limited special effects, but what it lacked in flash, it made up for in timing and sensibility. America was entangled in the Vietnam War, the Cold War was at its height, the Civil Rights Movement was battling the status quo, and pre-regulation smog was made the skies over our major cities a toxic gray.
Despite bleak newscasts, the optimistic future people longed for could be found once a week aboard The USS Enterprise. On that starship, well-spoken hunks swaggered around in skin-tight trousers and pointy boots, while their female counterparts reported to duty decked out like go-go dancers. Characters were compelling, story lines were sound, romance filled the air, and if all that wasn't enough of a treat, viewers were served up sweet philosophical questions to chew on later. An epic soundtrack further distinguished the show. Gene Roddenberry wanted sweeping orchestral music instead of space age blips and bloops, thus composers like Gerald Fried and Sol Kaplan were brought in. Prolific, though they were, they had very little time to score the weekly episodes, so they painted with sound in glorious broad brushstrokes.
That original series spawned a franchise that has grown to include five different series, 12 movies, an enormous fan culture, and a live concert series. Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, produced by CineConcerts, is a nationwide golden anniversary concert tour. It played the Memphis Orpheum on January 29th.
I'm not a Trekkie, so I brought along my friend, Sylvia Valentine, who is. (Sylvia didn't wear a costume, but swears she has one hanging in the closet.) A number of other concert goers arrived in uniform, and some were good-natured enough to pose for photos.
Kelly and Mike Blumenthal, Trekkies
As we watched people stream through the lobby, (more of them heading toward the memorabilia booth than the adult beverages), Sylvia explained. "Symphony goers and Trekkies aren't always the same audience. This event brings them both together."
This 50-year celebration is beautifully staged. The orchestra plays from a white set suggestive of the Enterprise bridge, set off by a black background filled with shimmering stars. Elaborate lighting changes compliment the music. Throughout this concert, iconic Star Trek film and TV footage is beamed in high definition to a 40-foot wide screen.
The first few minutes of the show felt clunky, due to its cliché ridden intro performed with the same lackluster narration one might expect in a second rate iMax film. (I couldn't help but wonder if they'd have done better to leave it out all together.) Once they cut to the cosmic chase, it was a great show!
Marcy Meeker, Trekkie
The first part of the program was organized categorically, and it was interesting to see the different Star Trek iterations juxtaposed. It was also fascinating to see how the technology we have today is in some ways far more advanced (communication and computer technology) and in other ways (no transporter or warp speed) far less advanced than the writers had anticipated.
Roddenberry, true to his ideals chose to "boldly go where no man had gone before" by making the Enterprise crew racially diverse. In the 1968 episode Plato's Stepchildren the first scripted black and white interracial kiss occurred on American television. Network executives, fearing reaction in the deep south, insisted that two versions of the scene be filmed: one with the kiss and one without. In protest, William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols deliberately flubbed every take of the alternate version to ensure the kiss was shown nationwide. As Shatner's character Captain Kirk so famously said, "Risk is our business--that's what a starship is all about." This optimistic mantra resonates with all of us, making it easy to understand Star Trek's wild popularity and true credibility. In the 1970s and early 1980s, for example, NASA hired original series actess Nichelle Nichols to recruit female astronauts.
Seph Nacify, Trekkie
The Ultimate Voyage concert event is two hours long, with a twenty-minute intermission. Even though I'm a non-Trekkie, I was thoroughly entertained and evening passed at warp speed. After a glorious finale, fans were treated to an encore that included some wonderful production stills and behind the scenes footage.
This concert event played for only one evening at The Memphis Orpheum but our city was just on stop on a 100 city tour, so you can consider catching it at other venues. (Click here for a full schedule.) You can also enjoy following the tour on Facebook.
To stay abreast of upcoming touring shows and special events at The Memphis Orpheum visit www.orpheum-memphis. co

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