With 50 years, 700 TV episodes, a dozen movies and five different series, “Star Trek” is obviously one of the most universally recognized entertainment franchises on the planet. And the journey just expanded into concert territory thanks to a 100-plus city tour titled “The Ultimate Voyage” that finds its most famous clips from several incarnations placed atop a live symphony orchestra.
Given the sheer majesty of sound, both lifelong Trekkies and even their least dedicated companions could likely agree on the evening’s musical merit with enough on screen action to possibly sway the latter to the other side.
The bridging of the visual and musical world for the Jam Productions undertaking at the sonically pristine Chicago Theatre came courtesy of CineConcerts, the same company responsible for similar showcases of “The Godfather,” “Gladiator” and the forthcoming “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” Given that lineage, it was no surprise to see “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” run like clockwork throughout two hours of sci-fi meets symphonic satisfaction.In terms of the characters, Captain Kirk, Spock and all the usual suspects on down earned plenty of face time (essentially grouped by shared subject matter), plus there was just enough narration from Michael Dorn/Worf to introduce the basic nuts and bolts of the past five decades. Besides the originals, there were also a fair amount of nods to “Star Trek: Insurrection,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Star Trek: Voyager” with the quality of the already extraordinary action earning extra enhancement from its projection on a 40-foot jumbotron (housed above a set mirroring the starship Enterprise).
The classic compositions were also in the equally competent hands of conductor Justin Freer, who came to “Star Trek” territory” after time on tour with “The Lord Of The Rings,” “The Godfather,” “Gladiator,” plus Chicago, San Francisco and Sydney Symphony appearances. Along with a full stage’s worth of world class musicians and soloists, the performance highlighted such lushly composed pieces as all the opening title soundtracks, the first film’s sublime “Ilia’s Theme” and the chilling orchestral suite from “The Inner Light” episode of “The Next Generation,” all of which leapt to life well beyond a standard movie or TV viewing.
Given the sheer majesty of sound, both lifelong Trekkies and even their least dedicated companions could likely agree on the evening’s musical merit with enough on screen action to possibly sway the latter to the other side. And even if not, there was no ignoring just how much “Star Trek” has lived long and prospered to this very day while continuing to unite so many generations throughout its ongoing expedition.
“Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” returns to the Peoria Civic Center on Sunday, March 20 and the iWireless Center in Moline on Tuesday, March 22. For additional details, visit StarTrekUltimateVoyage.com and Ticketmaster.com.