Geek culture must be experiencing something of a Golden Era with the mainstream success of comic book heroes on screens small and large, another Star Wars episode on the horizon, and the recent Star Trek "reboots" that have garnered award nominations and big box office numbers. And now, we have our own local contribution to the celebration of all things geeky with Alley Theater's upcoming original play, STAR TREK, The Original, Deep Space, Next Voyager, Generation, Enterprise 9: The Officially Unauthorized Parody, written by Louisvillian Kenn Parks. That mouthful of a title promises to mash up favorite characters and episodes from the original series as well as its spin-offs from The Next Generation to Enterprise.
Running from July 31 through August 16 at Alley's new location at 633 W. Main St., the Star Trek parody coincides interestingly with Fandom Fest (August 1-3), which features not only the new "Bones" -- actor Karl Urban -- but also nearly the entire cast of The Next Generation. For a theater company known for its audience participation, you never know who could show up as a volunteer Red Shirt.
The new play's writer, Kenn Parks, is no stranger to Alley Theater. He has acted in productions, served in marketing and fundraiser capacities, and is a member of its Board of Directors. After acting in its popular production of "Star Wars in 60 Minutes or Less," Parks broached the idea of doing a similar parody of Star Trek to Alley's founder, Producing Director Scott Davis. According to Parks, after several discussions, Davis told Parks, "Well, write the damn thing!"
As a long-time Star Trek fan, Parks dove into the idea, researching fan-favorite episodes, iconic moments, and mining the entire franchise for inside jokes and gags that would lend themselves to Alley's signature style of improvisational humor and pop culture savvy. But to Parks, Star Trek's appeal has always been about more than its opportunities for humor or William Shatner's emphatic acting style. "It was visionary. It was so cutting edge. They were breaking cultural boundaries."
Scott Davis will direct this production, featuring Parks as Captain Kirk and Joey Arena as Picard. Cast members Christie Troxell, Sterling Pratt, Kimby Peterson, Denny Grinar, Spencer Korcz, and Alex Hume will bring the rest of the Star Trek universe to life. Audience participation is a big part of Alley Theater's mission, and this time is no exception. Parks says, "We're going to randomly select 10 Red Shirts from each show. They'll get up on stage in certain scenes and die dramatically! It really is going to be a fast-paced, hilarious, non-stop experience in two acts." Parks mentioned that they also want to sponsor a costume contest over the first weekend, so you may want to dust off your tricorders and shine those Enterprise insignias now.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. shows are $15 for adults and $12 for students. Go to the Alley Theater website or call (502) 713-6178 for more details.
[Photo by Em Browne: Captain Kirk (Kenn Parks) and Captain Picard (Joey Arena), though from different time periods, are beamed down together, to Quark's Bar on Deep Space Nine.]