Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage
DPAC, Durham
Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016

On Thursday night, I went to see Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage at DPAC. It is a live orchestral performance of Star Trek music, accompanied by a cinematic clip show. A week has passed, and I’m just now forming my opinion.

I was supposed to review the show. Simple enough, I thought: I would bang out a quick few paragraphs before lunch the next day. But I typed and deleted, typed and deleted, typed and deleted, and eventually just started to forget about the assignment. I realized I didn’t have a lot to say.

Granted, while I was there, I was slotting my experiences into positives and negatives. The Klingon medley was strong, with well-chosen clips, and the choice to signal intermission with the cliffhanger music from storied The Next Generation two-parter “The Best of Both Worlds” was clever. James Horner’s breathless, arresting Star Trek II theme—the best music from the franchise—was given the proper spotlight as the second half’s overture. Picard’s poignant flute melody from “The Inner Light” made a welcome appearance, too.

Yet there were moments when the show felt like a Wikipedia article set to music or like watching out-of-context YouTube clips. There were moments everything onscreen felt too familiar. Granted, I’ve seen all of Star Trek except for The Animated Series and the later seasons of Enterprise, so there’s very little in the Trek universe I haven’t encountered. Some of the Voyager or Deep Space Nine scenes would have been nearly incomprehensible for a casual audience—the guys behind me, perhaps, who giggled at the special-effects shots or made obvious “may the Force be with you” jokes.

But after the show, I waited for more realizations. As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I often find myself waiting—waiting for the next film, the next series, for news of either. Yet there was nothing new, nothing from The Ultimate Voyage that elicited any special feeling. Sure, the encore came close, as conductor Justin Freer practically boogied, conducting the Original Series’ campy theme with obvious glee while black-and-white production and backstage stills—one in welcome homage to series creator Gene Roddenberry—flashed. Otherwise, it was a 50-year retrospective, with the clips and music well-chosen, but nothing new.

The true highlight of the evening actually came in the lobby during the intermission. At first it seemed like everyone was dressed either in evening wear or, at best, Star Trek T-shirts. Scattered here and there, though, were folks in uniform—a few The Next Generation outfits, one from Enterprise, and one man who looked nothing short of dignified in his late-season Deep Space Nine command uniform.

The night was worth it just to be immersed in my subculture—even briefly, and even if I’d been too self-conscious to wear one of my own uniforms. Still, I left wondering if, like me, those Trek faithful had been waiting, too.