Monday, November 10, 2008

Trekking to Denver

Right now we live only about an hour away from Denver- a real-live big city! I subscribed to the Denver Post at a very low rate so I could get the Sunday paper coupon inserts. Last week I noticed a blurb about a concert that the Denver Symphony Orchestra was putting on called "Trek: the Concert." I knew we just had to go. DH and I are both Trek fans and both love the symphony. What a perfect combination! We already had a babysitter, so I found out about directions and tickets and we were on our way... driving to Denver for our date night. Who would've thought?

I was so excited that this concert would be hosted by two of my favorite Trek actors of all time: John de Lancie ("Q" from ST:TNG) and Robert Picardo (the Dr. on Voyager). It took the reality of seeing them in person to realize how much of a fan I am. I was so keyed up when I saw them both come out on stage in the flesh in black tuxes with tails. We paid a pretty penny for our tickets and had a great view. John de Lancie looked tall and just a little older and greyer than he did on TNG and had a bit of facial hair, but once he started talking and joking around I totally recognized "Q." He has such a great voice and larger-than-life stage presence. Which was why he was so absolutely perfect playing "Q." The "Q" episodes are some of my favorites in all the series that he appeared in.

It was also fun to see glimpses of the Dr. from Voyager come out when Picardo would speak. Though I enjoyed seeing the actors real personalities and not just the characters they played. They both told some personal stories about how they got involved in Star Trek (neither of them had been fans previously). John de Lancie told a great story about how he didn't ever know who Gene Roddenberry was the first time he met him.

De Lancie told a great story about how he got the part in TNG. He was in a play when his agent called and told him she had gotten an audition for TNG. He didn't go because it was during the time he was doing his play. So she got him another audition during his lunchtime which he went to. The Next Generation people wanted him for the part of "Q," however they wanted him to start before his play tour was over. De Lancie said he couldn't miss any of his plays. So Roddenberry told him that he needed to be there by the fifteenth of the month to start and that was the latest he could be there. Well, the fifteenth happened to be the last day of the play tour. De Lancie's play happened to be playing in Tokyo on the fifteenth, but de Lancie had to be in the U.S. on the fifteenth. What did he do? He did his play in Tokyo, boarded a plane and "thanks to a little magic called the International Date Line" (he said this with a tada and a flourish- very Q-like), got to the U.S. in time to be there for his first day as "Q!" Everyone was laughing.

We also learned some interesting tidbits about the history of Star Trek and how it came about. I guess I wasn't a big enough fan, but I didn't know that the theme from Star Trek had words. Cheesy bad words at that. It was a hoot to see Picardo sing them in a style that reminded me of that Voyager episode where he becomes a musical idol on that alien planet. Both Picardo and de Lancie concluded that perhaps the theme is best done without the words and I concur!

I didn't know the de Lancie was also a gifted musician. He chose all of the music that the symphony played and it was fascinating to hear him explain some of the differences in the themes from each of the Star Trek movies and how they reflected the different composers and movie contents. He acknowledged that Star Trek IV was a fan favorite (including mine) and humorously talked about how the 5th movie (Star Trek: the Final Frontier) was the worst calling it "The Final Affrontery."

My favorite musical moments were hearing the main themes from the TV shows- especially the latter ones. The hall was filled with the amazing sounds of the themes from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. The brass sections sounded so majestic, but I did noticed a couple of fracks and out-of-tune notes on the trumpet and horn solos. DH (a trumpet player) was sympathetic and told me that those solos were incredibly difficult.

Overall the orchestra sounded just fantastic and the experience of being encompassed by the music is one I will never forget. (It sounded a thousand times better than any surround sound system!) The percussionists were fun to watch as they swung plastic tubes around over their heads to get an "otherworldly" sound on some of the themes.

The two actors sat on stools watching the orchestra perform and I liked watching their reactions. Picardo looked cute perched completely on the stool while de Lancie looked very Q-like with one foot on the stool and the other long leg extending to the floor.

The only thing I was disappointed by in terms of the musical selection was that they didn't play the absolutely exquisite theme from a Next Generation episode called "The Inner Light." (no, they didn't Caro *sigh* )

The music was definitely featured, but the two actors also did quite a bit of narration in between the musical selections. They were such a hoot as I knew they would be! They made jokes about all the big egos associated with Star Trek (Roddenberry, Nimoy, Q, Shatner).

De Lancie asked the audience who we thought would win in a battle between Q and the Borg. Of course we were all cheering for Q and booing the Borg. He then asked what about between "Q and Iron Man?" Most all of us including me were hootin' and hollerin' that Q would win. But then he asked who would prevail: "Q or Mrs. Q" and everyone laughingly acknowledged that it would be Mrs. Q. What was SO funny was that when he said "Mrs. Q," de Lancie ducked his head and cringed with a beaten puppy look on his face that was totally in the Q character when around the Mrs. Loved it!

Another funny bit was when they introduced the Next Generation and de Lancie said something about Captain Picard. Right after de Lancie said "Picard," Robert Picardo uttered a low-toned "o." De Lancie said no, it's not Picard-o, it Picard. We are talking about Captain Picard, not you. "It's Picard." Then we hear another "o" from Picardo. Everyone's laughing now and Picardo says that he knew what de Lancie was talking about and was simply acknowledging what de Lancie was saying about Picard. To which de Lancie replied, "oh" with such great timing and expression. So funny!

While talking about the Next Generation and Q, I was happy to hear de Lancie talk about "mon capitan" in a most Q-like fashion.

Unfortunately the night had to come to an end. I could have stayed there for twice as long listening to the great interaction and chemistry between the two actors and the beautiful music of the orchestra. But we had to drive back home.

I was really wishing I brought my camera as some people actually dressed up in costume. The best were a couple who were dressed as Klingons and looked very realistic. They were standing in the lobby during intermission letting people take their pictures with them and I was kicking myself that I forgot my camera as that would have been a fun picture to have.

I am so glad we got adventurous and went all the way to Denver for this concert. It was a late night for us, but I didn't even care the next day when I woke up tired with a headache as I was still pumped and happy from the concert the night before. Man, I'd better watch out, I'm going to be in Trek costume next time if I'm not careful!