Boldly Go! Where No Musical Has Gone Before at Caltech
I probably wouldn’t have gone if it were at the Music Center or even another college with a proper performing arts department. But a Star Trek musical theater production at Caltech featuring students, alumni, staff, JPL employees, and neighborhood volunteers seemed as sincere as it was geeky and too good to pass up. As a fan of The Original Series (TOS), how could I not heed the title, and Boldly Go! Where No Musical Has Gone Before?
The production value was strictly DIY, the singing ranged heartfelt to practically pro, and the love for TOS was set to stun. There were plenty of toe-tapping songs, but I especially loved McCoy’s comic and practically rapping at warp speed, “Dammit Jim, I’m a Doctor,” and the tearjerker that radiation-poisoned Spock sings to Kirk by the warp coil called, “Live Long and Prosper.” Spoiler alert: It could have been called “I’ve Always Been Your Friend” and I could have cried, too.
Hardcore Trekkers may not like the revisionist treatment of Klingons (and musical snobs might feel the same way about the Motley Crüe inspired “Honor And Glory”) but it’s impossible not to root for the love story between Spock and an Andorian scientist named Takya. And when asked if she ever had a thing for the Vulcan, Uhuru’s response went something like, “In what crazy universe would that happen?”
The abundance of references to canon such as The Kobayashi Maru, Amok Time, Tribbles, and space hippies was complemented by a vibe of true fandom over perfection. Prop benches falling apart, a tip flying off a cane while Spock sang and danced through “The Vulcan Way” in a top hat, and microphones that crackled every now and then. This, at a world-class campus that is grooming great minds to send people into space.
To go boldly but imperfectly and lovingly is the spirit of Star Trek. And the Caltech musical embodied that well. My rating is a full four fingers up in a Vulcan salute to co-writers Cole and Grant Remmen (the former also played Spock), director Brian Brophy, and Theater Arts Caltech.
There are three more performances at 7:30 on March 3 and 4, and 2:30 on March 5 at the Ramo Auditorium at Caltech in Pasadena. For more information and ticketing, visit tacit.caltech.edu.