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Star Trek Live: Theater Review - Ladue News: Arts & Entertainment

Star Trek Live: Theater Review

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Posted: Monday, May 14, 2012 8:46 am | Updated: 11:49 am, Mon May 14, 2012.

Story: Trekkies of the universe, return with us now for ‘live’ re-enactments of two episodes of the classic science-fiction TV series. In The Gamesters of Triskelion, Captain Kirk, Ensign Chekov and Lieutenant Uhura are trapped on a planet where the mysterious ‘Providers’ have them engaged in gladiator battles with aliens for the Providers’ own malicious amusement. Kirk devises a desperate escape plan as Mr. Spock and others aboard the Enterprise search for their missing colleagues.

In Journey to Babel, the Enterprise escorts a number of dignitaries to an important galactic peace conference. With Spock’s own Vulcan father and Earth mother among the luminaries aboard, an assassin seeks to wreak havoc on those gathered even as an unknown spaceship pursues the Enterprise en route to the conference. Only quick action by Kirk, Spock and colleagues can save everyone from disaster.

Highlights: Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre artistic director Donna Northcott has spun comic gold out of movies and TV series that have ranged from the truly terrible (Glen or Glenda?) to the beloved (It’s a Wonderful Life) and the classic (The Lord of the Rings). Consistent within these parodies is a wry sense of humor and delicious over-the-top acting that, combined with cheesy sets and special effects, makes for productions designed purely for wacky entertainment.

What could be more suitable fodder for the Monkey than the TV series that proved more popular in syndicated repeats than during its three short years as an original series, thanks to the devotion of its loyal fans known as trekkies? Those diehard followers enabled Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to spawn several successful TV sequels as well as a spate of cinema versions that all proved enormously popular.

Other Info: Trekkies may indeed savor the silly shenanigans prevalent in this Monkey spoof, but more often than not casual observers might instead see humor that is too often forced and strained than natural. After the 10th or so reference by Dave Cooperstein as Dr. “Bones” McCoy to the Enterprise physician’s signature line, “Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a (fill in reference),” or the deliberately hesitant speech by Jim Ousley in the style of William Shatner as Captain Kirk, an hour and a half can seem more like a day and a half.

Add the virtually unintelligible dialogue by James Enstall as the blustering chief engineer Mr. Scott (high marks for accent, low ones for elocution) and the usual madcap hijinks of assorted players and it can be a long evening.

Fortunately, there are enough moments that work to make this Monkey business at least palatable. Ed Cole has the good fortune to play the unemotional Mr. Spock and does so with just the right touch of sincerity. His semi-emotional meltdown in the presence of his parents is humorous material, indeed.

Ousley has fun with Kirk’s reputation as an interspatial womanizer, and Cooperstein is funny when he shrugs his shoulders as the habitually impatient McCoy, although paring several of those “Damn it, Jim” references surely would help. Ron Strawbridge is wonderful as the flirtatious Uhura, while Suki Peters heats up the galaxy as the sultry, green-haired Shahna, Kirk’s love interest on Triskelion.

Ben Ritchie and Amy Kelly are amusing to watch as Spock’s dispassionate Vulcan father and party girl Earth mother, and Chris Jones is entertaining as a nasty alien named Kloog. Others contributing to the merry mayhem include Beth Wickenhauser, Tom Lehmann, Paul Devine and Blaine Adams as Chekov.

Wes Jenkins and Katie Donovan provide a bevy of space costumes, including the familiar uniforms of the Enterprise personnel, Jeff Roberts throws in an old Leonard Nimoy song about hobbits as sound designer and Adams is responsible for a wacky array of ridiculous props that add to the shenanigans. Natalie Smith designed the lights, while Dustin Massie and Brian Paladin collaborated on the nifty captain’s chair at the center of the action.

Star Trek: Live! likely will pack ‘em in for the next two weeks with those diehard trekkie types. Hopefully they can understand all the dialogue.

Play: Star Trek: Live!

Group: Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre

Venue: Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar

Dates: May 11, 12, 18, 19

Tickets: $10-$15; contact 1-800-838-3006 or brownpapertickets.com

Rating: A 3 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Photos courtesy of Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre

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