“Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier” brings out the inner geek in audience members of the Bartell Theater. Writers and co-stars Nicholas Connors and Quinn Elmer have been working on the musical together since high school. This alone is impressive, but the fact the musical is shockingly good is altogether out of this world.
The musical centers around David Drake (played by Connors), an arrogant and idiotic captain of the Star Patrol crew. Drake loses some very important cargo – three golf balls (and there is a song titled “Find Our Balls”) that double as weapons of ultimate destruction. These weapons belong to the evil Exrin Apix, whose character showcases Elmer’s scary talents as a villain. Drake and his crew travel to different planets to find these weapons, and, in the end, an ultimate battle ensues.
“Space Voyage” is clearly inspired by the genius of Star Wars and Star Trek, although favoring Star Wars slightly more. It’s the musical every geek has been waiting for, with Drake failing miserably to finish his catch phrase, “Live long and … something.” The writing is witty, creative and fresh. The mocking, yet poignant, nature of the story line of friendship brings an almost “Book of Mormon” feel.
This galactic story is tied together by the friendship between Drake and his right-hand man, Ancylon Tolland, played by Luke Timmesch – one of the best actors in the show. Tolland is intelligent where as Drake is not. The two of them have their spat, but in the end, they show the importance of friendship.
The actual music in “Space Voyage” is very well written with clever allusions to modern-day events, with plenty of pokes at “The Hunger Games” and hash tags (#davidsucks). Though some of the actors have better voices than others, Tolland’s love interest, Angelina Palmer, played by Natalie Perry, has a voice that shines whenever she sings. The real promise lies in the future careers of Connors and Elmer have as playwrights.
The only criticism is that the play runs a bit long. Though each song is interesting and funny, cutting down a few scenes or running the show at a faster pace would help make the musical tighter.
The main characters are equipped with clever one-liners, and the small characters throughout the performance are all very comedic. Some characters were contacted via futuristic Skype to communicate with the ship, and the voices and characters that came through bring the audience nothing but laughter. Each actor had a separate accent executed impressively well – otherwise it just would have been awkward.
The musical was extremely enjoyable, but what made is so exciting was how new it felt. In a time where the stage and movie theaters are dominated by remakes, historical biographies and renditions of books, it’s remarkably exciting to see something full of new ideas, songs and a sense of humor. Connors and Elmer’s writing kept the audience constantly engaged. Different jokes about Twitter, Facebook and the very uncool MySpace, were made throughout the show – something only a young person could accurately describe. Their writing, and Connors’ musicality are talents to be continued, because Madison is excited to see more.
The show runs through Saturday, March 16. Tickets are $15.