Friday, February 21, 2014

BSO: Sci-Fi Spectacular! Review

George Takei poses with a fan


One doesn't expect to see Lightsabers and Stormtroopers at the Music Center at Strathmore; yet alone, center stage alongside the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. But that was the scene last night for the BSO: Sci-Fi Spectacular! led by conductor Jack Everly and hosted by Star Trek's own George Takei. This was a night to dress up (literally) and let your hair down... a perfect marriage of classical music and geekdom.

The show began in the lobby, where characters from Star Wars posed for pictures with fellow fanboys and curious subscribers. Once everyone made their way into the Music Center, Everly and his orchestra took over with... appropriately enough, the Main Theme from Star Wars. From there, the BSO took us on a whirlwind tour of Sci-Fi television (Lost in Space, Space 1999 and The Jetsons, complete with chorus) before shooting off into outer space with Oscar winner E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Somewhere in Time and Superman. After that rousing trio of hits, a green mist formed by stage right... soon revealing a tuxedo-clad Takei. Cue thunderous applause from the Strathmore faithful.

Mr. Takei wants to know, "Does it get hot in there?"

Mr. Takei shared a few stories about Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and co-star James Doohan, who fast became George's "favorite drinking buddy." He then introduced fellow officer (and soprano) Lt. Kristen Plumley, who chipped in on a stirring rendition of the Star Trek theme. Everly took over once again, and played a wonderful version of the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme, bridging the gap to intermission.

Pre-theatre photo op

After intermission, a playful Everly (who looked perfectly at ease with the less formal subject matter) opened the second act by performing a Jedi mind trick on a Stormtrooper, standing guard on stage, "These are not musicians you are looking for." Big laughs. After that, it was back to the music, and what's better than the respective themes from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters of the Third Kind? In between, another BSO first... a Star Wars Lightsaber giveaway via trivia questions: I can safely say I've seen it all now!

Takei returned, to recite Klaatu's address to the planet Earth from 1952's The Day the Earth Stood Still with an impressive backdrop of the BSO and a laser light show. Impressive indeed. Everly saved the best for last, wrapping up with my personal favorite Duel of the Fates from Star Wars Ep. 1: The Phantom Menace. It doesn't get much better than this.

Hmm... which one isn't a Star Wars character?

Afterwards, a lucky few were invited to stick around for a Sci-Fi Spectacular Bash, complete with cocktails, DJ and Sci-Fi photo booth. Mr. Takei joined the festivities, posing with awe-struck fans for photos and autographs. Oh my! Hats off to the BSO, Jack Everly and the Strathmore for hitting a chord with its wide fan base, and embracing the unknown. Nights like this, don't come along all that often; and everyone seemed to embrace the light-hearted atmosphere with open arms. Beam me up, Scotty... There's hope for us yet.

"Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on... I wanna dance with my baby"

In case you missed last night's performance, you can travel to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore for three remaining shows... tonight and tomorrow (Saturday) night at 8:00 PM, and Sunday, February 23rd at 3:00 PM. Tickets range from $29 to $94 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000 or