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Friday, February 23, 2024

Student musical is a ‘Voyage’ worth taking

“Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier” is a once in a lifetime experience. A satire on science fiction, this show captures some of the best moments in sci-fi history and turns them into hilarious jokes and commentary on pop culture. The show is presented by InterMission Theatre, a theatre started by sophomores Quinn Elmer and Nicholas Connors at the start of the 2012 fall semester. The two began writing “Space Voyage” when they were still in high school and finally committed to the project and their vision this year.

With a Kickstarter account used to fund the production and the support of friends, family, and an 18-person volunteer cast the musical exploded into existence. Connors, a music composition major here at UW-Madison, produced and scored the music himself while working with Elmer to write the script. The hilarious result makes for a night of comedic gold.

In the far future, Captain David Drake of the USS Derivative and his crew are on a dangerous job in deep space. Their mission: obtain three extremely dangerous weapons and return them to the Star Patrol base for safekeeping. Their enemy: Exrin Apix, an evil mastermind who plans to destroy Star Patrol and let evil run rampant in space. The crew: eight specialists and two interns with half a mind to destroy Captain Drake themselves after he launches the weapons off the deck of the ship. The captain and crew must retrieve the deadly weapons from all corners of space before Apix finds them and sets them off.

As far as the musical side of the show goes, it is up to par with many other local theaters. While it is not filled with Broadway classics featuring fine-tuned harmonies and extravagant lyrics, it gets the story across, usually with a comedic twist. Many of the songs are fast-paced and include great belts and solos from the performers. The title track, “Life In Space” opens the show and sets the mood of both danger and also incredible excitement. One song that stood out was the token love ballad, “If I Tell You How I Feel,” a duet sung by two crew members who performed with emotion and energy in their voices and movements. The captivating song falls in the middle of the first act between the wonderfully titled “The Super Space Drive Blows” and “Find Our Balls.” In the second act, Apix and his crew outline their lifestyle with “The Best Thing About Being Evil,” featuring tap dancing and trumpet tones reminiscent of “Young Frankenstein.” The show closes with a reprise of “Life In Space,” which includes the entire crew of Star Patrol.

The cast of “Space Voyage” was surprisingly professional for a DIY venture. While only a few members of the cast have majors or minors in theater, all have had experience on the stage in the past. Creator Nick Connors played the hunky Captain David Drake, a play on Captain Kirk from “Star Trek.” His pompous attitude and lack of morals made him an exciting lead. Nick’s voice lent to the character perfectly, with his ballad “Between the Lines” being vocally powerful. Even with technical issues at the start, Connors helped lead the cast into a great performance. Apix, portrayed by co-writer Quinn Elmer, also held his own in the evil role. While his vocals were not as prominent and strong as Connors’, his body language and enthusiasm as a character helped him reach the same caliber of performance. The loving pair of Tolland (Luke Thimmesch) and Palmer (Natalie Perry), who performed “If I Tell You How I Feel,” stole the musical, both taking strong leads in their characters and their music.

Another personal favorite was Kate Mann’s Karla Millenium, Apix’s overly angry sidekick who yelled, screamed and tapped her way through the role, adding another comedic side to evil. The other crew members all added their own bit of spice to the mix, though not all had the same performance caliber as the other members.

The show was extremely entertaining, but definitely had its ups and downs. The main concern of the performance is the length. Most full-length Broadway musicals run between two and three hours including intermission. “Space Voyage” was a little over three hours long, which drag on a bit by the end. There is a section when the songs slow a bit and the show lulls, as most shows tend to, but it takes a bit longer than it should to pick back up.

“Space Voyage” is a fresh, entertaining and incredibly original. While the time is a bit of a downfall, the story is captivating and the music worthwhile. “Space Voyage” is playing at Bartell Theatre through March 16th. Tickets can be found online at http://www.intermissiontheatre.com.

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