Umpqua Community College’s theater department will return to the stage for the first live performance since last summer.
For this production, Christina Allaback and her cast will put a twist on a cult classic. The play is called “Arena Gorn Superstar,” which is a musical adaptation of the 18th episode of the first season of “Star Trek: The Original Series.” Much like the episode, Captain James T. Kirk (Ariel Hicks) will be forced to battle an opposing captain, known as the Gorn (Gavin Pike).
“This is classic Start Trek,” Cassandra Horton said. “If you’ve seen the old shows, you’ll love it. If you’ve only seen the new movies, you’ll love it. If you know nothing about Star Trek... You’ll love it!”
The twist comes in the form of original music created by UCC’s Director of Music Jason Heald. Years ago, Allaback and Heald put together another Star Trek musical. Since then, the two have considered doing another. This outdoor performance provided the perfect opportunity.
“Jason thought Arena would be a great musical and we have sort of been throwing that around for a few years,” Allaback explained. “With COVID, we knew any live performance would have to be outside and Arena was just made to be outside.”
Hicks, who tackles the iconic role of Captain Kirk, is a voice over artist from California with a love of theater. She has been involved with several of the college’s virtual productions, but for this she decided to make the trip north and rent a room while learning her “biggest musical lead thus far.”
“It is work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Captain Kirk is so iconic and I get to live it several times,” Hicks said. “A captain has to keep multiple steps ahead and be willing to set boundaries. Sounds like a good fellow to me and we have that in common.”
As a female tackling a male role, Hicks said is has been “quite fun to throw in flirtation” in places where the original character might be more straight laced.
Horton is also a female adapting a male role. She plays Spock, Kirk’s right hand man. As a half-Vulcan, Spock is detached from his emotions. This was a part of the character that was hard for Horton, who describes herself as “quite bubbly, very silly. I love to make people laugh, even at my own expense. Very... illogical.” But that didn’t stop her from embracing a role she said is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”
“Star Trek has always been a part of my life. I was raised on it. Its exciting and a little intimidating to bring to life such well known and well loved character as well as bringing our twist to them,” Horton said.
While all the characters might seem similar, Allaback has encouraged each actor to make the role their own.
“I’ve been directing Star Trek plays for about six or seven years now and people want to come in and want to do a William Shatner impression or a Patrick Stewart impression, and I don’t want to do that. I always say this is our interpretation of Star Trek,” Allaback said. “You want the energy of the character without the impression, because there is something lost from the identity of the actor.”
Arena Gorn Superstar will begin at 6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays May 21-30 at the Umpqua Valley Arts Association outdoor stage located at 1624 W. Harvard Ave., Roseburg.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at showtix4u.com/event-details/51309 before the show. Cash will also be accepted at the door. Guests are encouraged to bring their own seating, as spaces will be marked for social distancing but chairs will not be provided. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food and drink.
Both Saturday night performances will be livestreamed at facebook.com/CenterstageTheatreUCC.
Allaback and Horton both aspire to bring a little hope to the audience through this production.
“Things are moving in the right direction, just like in the story, and there is always hope,” Horton concluded.