Star Trek: Abduction
Opera Orlando presenting at The Plaza Live
Conducted by Robin Jensen
Directed by Joshua Shaw
Starring Brian Cheney, Brittany Renee Robinson, Andrew Potter
I’ll bet REAL operas were this fun when they first came out – silly, sexy, and full of topical references where every important line gets sung until you GET…EVERY…PLOT POINT…SPOCK! Tonight’s house was only a third full, but the audience response made this show feel like a full house. Yes, there was plot, and yes, it was easy to follow as most lines were sung in English (with super captions) and only a few in Klingon. Klingon is surprisingly effective in opera. Capt. James T. Belmonte (Cheney) and his science officer Mr. Pedrillo (Robert Norman) beam down to Planet Mozart where Uhuru, err..Lt. Constanze (Robinson) resides in prison. Pedrillo wrestels with his inner human and exterior logic only to fall in love with green-skinned Blondie (Venessa Rodriguez). Meanwhile, the exceptionally tall Klingon Osmin (Potter) battles alcohol and his bad boss Chancellor Selim (Jonathan Lee Iverson) and we spend the first act singing about all the action that’s not happening on stage. Then the plot gets silly, laser battles and smoke bombs fill the stage, and then, like any good opera, there is a totally nonsensical and out of character ending.
But its great fun, Cheney’s Belmonte over-acts as well as Shatner but with more laughs and more 4th wall breaking. Norman’s science officer seems a bit short for storm trooper and aimed for humanity rather than cold Aristotelian logic. The Klingons and the chorus of Klingon dancers struggle to not hurt themselves with their unwieldly and dangerous looking Klingon Battle Whatchamacallits. Naturally, the singing was glorious; Robinson’s love song was my favorite, but all the principles had moments of sweet release. The set was minimal but functional, and while the ending of the story turned all the motivation on end, it still felt like a complete and through ending. Opera is so often the province of the purists who argue over high notes and accuracy of the strings, but that takes it away from its roots: rowdy romances with happy endings and satisfying vengeance. You can beam this cast up, but you can’t put them down.