By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Apr 15 – Regina
Conexus Art Centre
Apr 16 – Winnipeg
Burton Cummings Theatre
Please check local listings for other venues.
No Star Trek fan will want to miss The Ultimate Voyage: 50th Anniversary Concert Tour flying to select cities all across North America and beyond. This event is now into a Canadian leg of their show and they will return to the United States with more performances in May before taking a break. The event will cumulate to a special performance September 25, 2016, at the Palais des Congres in Paris, France. Had the date been Sept 8th, the broadcast date of Star Trek, the true die-hard would have noticed.
The Paramount Theatre was used in the Seattle, WA show as a fitting nod to the studio who owns this special property. The stage was decorated to resemble the bridge of the Enterprise from The Next Generation, and there was an effervescence glow. The lighting changed to establish the mood of each orchestral score. The music played perfectly in sync with the video montage (all of which was gloriously remastered for the big screen in Digital Cinema Package) of the series. Whoever put together this presentation really knew each Star Trek episode and film. To see the music played as Spock fought Kirk in “Amok Time” brought the same chills in me as I saw it back then, on television, for the first time. Another pivotal moment which stirred my emotions was when Picard was being transformed into a Borg and led the charge in “Best of Both Worlds.” The last frames showed Locutus before Riker said, “Fire!”
I was at the edge of my seat. There’s no denying The Next Generation played an important part in cementing Star Trek as part of the pop culture landscape. Deep Space Nine gets similar love and audiences here were very fond of Voyager. Cheers could be heard everywhere. Sadly, Enterprise was not as well received by the folks. I enjoyed this latest instalment somewhat. I loved the visit to the Mirror Universe, even though it’s dead last on the list of which series is the most enjoyable. Each series was fairly represented at its best instead of the worst. Conductor Justin Freer expertly led the 85-piece orchestra through moments that define the journey instead of what each series represented. The trip was a sequential journey at first, but as with any sci-fi epic, some time-travel is expected. If a video clip from another series (past or future) helps underscore the meaning, it will be used.
Conductor Ron Jones from the series (who was also the maestro for DuckTales and Family Guy) also appeared. I’m not sure if he will be at every show, but if the conductors from the series are local to this show, it’s a safe bet they’ll take the stand.
The montage reel of all the Star Trek villains also included the lamented Into Darkness, where Kahn was reinterpreted. The presentation was solid in not revealing who renegade Starfleet operative John Harrison truly is. The movies being guided by J.J. Abrams vision may seem limited, and in what’s shown is in how the new Captain James Tiberius Kirk is rediscovering the journey. The action is highlighted in the reels from the two films featuring Chris Pine. When William Shatner is present, tackling the journey — especially when concerning the Hero’s trials and tribulations — is explored. The humour written into this narrative can not go unnoticed either. To see Tribbles get a wonderful mention certainly tickled my fancy.
While the music provides an experience, the narrative was written to guide the presentation that explores the issues of the times Gene Roddenberry wanted Star Trek to secretly represent. The golden age of exploration, the social commentaries he injected to the saga, the morality lessons to be learned, the familial problems each generation faces feel current again. Michael Dorn‘s voice guided the show. Shatner and Patrick Stewart also provided pre-recorded voice over in some sections, and it helps underscore the meaning of “Generations.” I could not help but wonder how this show would have been like had he been present to speak live.
This concert is not meant to be like BBC Proms with performers taking center stage. That would have created a different mood. The set the musicians played in and the band pit would probably not be big enough to accommodate visits from the Orion Slave Girl dancers. The cinema screen that hovered over the performers did the job and it was visible from all areas of the auditorium. Every seat was great.
Would I go see this show again? Heck, yes! I was very moved by the music and had to wipe away a tear or three. The two hours went by rather fast, like warp speed, and even with an intermission, I realized that resistance was futile. I needed mementos. I picked up both a tee and hoodie. Certain sizes sell out fast, so arrive early for the best selection!