As the overture takes flight in Opera Orlando’s production of “Star Trek Abduction,” I’m alarmed to see that the musicians are in their “concert reds” — as in red “Star Trek” uniforms. For the love of the Prime Directive, do they not know what happens to “red shirts”?
Luckily, conductor Robin Jensen — dressed in a commander’s gold, of course — keeps everyone safe until show’s end. Well, except for one horn player who falls afoul of an angry Klingon. But I suppose that’s a hazard of the job when you sign on for Joshua Shaw’s utterly delightful adaptation of Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio.”
Shaw, who directed the local production, debuted the parody several years back. It follows the basics of Mozart’s plot — women are captured by a foreign race, and their menfolk must save them. But Shaw brilliantly sends up both opera and sci-fi by transplanting the story into the “Star Trek” universe. The heroes bear a more-than-passing resemblance to William Shatner’s Capt. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy’s highly logical Spock. One of the captured women is a sexy, green-skinned alien. And the foreign race: Klingons.
For “Star Trek” aficionados, this is must-see TV. Or opera, as the case may be. The puns, insider references and jokes come fast and furious. Nearly all land with genuine laughs. That’s partly due to the excellent casting.
Brian Cheney, as the captain, mocks Shatner’s oft-parodied vocal delivery but also his showboating. Instead of playing up to the camera, he schmoozes the audience — throwing in jokes during his songs, literally winking at the crowd. Despite the vamping, he doesn’t wear out his welcome.
Robert Norman has all the tics of Spock — the tilt of the head, the flat inflection when speaking. And he displays spot-on (Spock-on?) comic reactions as the object of a song full of sexual innuendo.
Brittany Renee Robinson has the spark of Lt. Uhura and Vanessa Rodriguez fills the sexy-female-guest-alien-of-the-week role with gusto. Andrew Potter has real comic chops as the surly Klingon Osmin.
In the goofy spirit of things, the supertitles state “something in Klingon” the first time Osmin sings (and it’s certainly an operatic first to hear a Klingon trill “tra la la la la.”) Although there are supertitles, “Abduction” is sung in English — which does occasionally provide a painful reminder of how repetitious opera’s lyrics can be.
For all that the dialogue is very funny, the singing is serious. The principals uniformly have strong voices, as does the excellent choir of aliens. In particular, Robinson’s lament of “Grief Remains Inside My Soul,” Potter and Norman’s drinking song, and a well-blended act 2 quartet are highlights.
For this giddily entertaining show, set your phasers to fun.