Arts » Theater

You Boldly Go, Girl! :: Gender-Bending 'Star Trek Live' at Oasis

by David-Elijah Nahmod
Thursday Feb 22, 2018

Imagine a man playing a woman, and a woman playing a man, who switch bodies. Sound confusing? Not if you're attending 'Star Trek Live' at the Oasis, when the original series episode "Turnabout Intruder" will be performed live on stage. The show takes off on multiple dates in February and March.

In the show, popular drag king Leigh Crow, once known as Elvis Presley impersonator Elvis Herselvis, stars as Captain James T. Kirk. D'arcy Drollinger, who also directs, will be seen as Kirk's ex-girlfriend, now nemesis, Janice Lester. As the story unfolds, Lester's mind takes over Kirk's body, and vice-versa.

"It's a pretty funny part to be playing, for both myself and Leigh Crow," Drollinger tells Bay Area Reporter. "I am in sexy space lady drag doing my best, or worst, William Shatner impersonation. And Leigh Crow is doing a hilarious take on a very fem version of Kirk. That in and of itself is worth the price of admission alone."

"Playing with gender is what I do," added Crow. "I love the strong audience reaction I get when I am playing a woman like in 'Bitchslap,' when me in a dress gets a gasp! This will be a lot of fun as Shatner is overacting even for him! It's like Victor/Victoria in space."

Crow has played Kirk at the Oasis in earlier incarnations of 'Star Trek Live.' Her love for the character goes back to her childhood. "I am a full-blown Trekkie and love both Kirk and Shatner," she said. "Kirk wouldn't be Kirk without Shatner and vice-versa. I don't think you can play Kirk without playing Shatner and I love doing an over the top Shatner because it's so much fun. Only a director like D'Arcy could say Bigger! More!"

In its day the original 'Star Trek' series was considered quite groundbreaking. Creator and producer Gene Roddenberry went where no TV series had gone before: Roddenberry insisted on diversity in his casting choices. The crew of the USS Enterprise included Mr. Sulu, an Asian man (George Takei), and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), an African American woman. In the series' most daring move, one episode featured an onscreen kiss between Uhura, and Kirk, who was white. Nichols has since recalled being told by Dr. Martin Luther King that he and his family were fans of hers.

"It was very much about diversity," Drollinger noted, as he recalled the interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura. "I do think it's important to embrace this right now. We are doing the final episode in the original series which is pretty sexy, but having women playing men saying their lines has another layer of comedy and social commentary."

Drollinger pointed out that 'Star Trek Live' was both a satire and an homage.

"I feel like there is a duty to be true to certain aspects of the series," he said. "We have built Kirk's chair to spec and use as much of the original music as we can find, but at the same time we take certain liberties to mine for comedy. I describe it as a satirical restoration piece."

Audiences can expect to see impressive sets, which hearken back to the original series. "I'm proud of what we've done with the art direction in a limited space," said Drollinger. "Sarah Phykitt, who is the mastermind behind the art direction and sets, goes deep into the recreation process. I love working with her. We both embrace our artistic OCD."

And though no gay characters appeared on 'Star Trek' until the premiere of 'Star Trek: Discovery,' the latest voyage into the 'Trek' universe, Drollinger wants to assure B.A.R. readers that 'Star Trek Live' has much that will appeal to a gay audience.

"The original 'Star Trek' was one of the campiest shows ever produced on TV," he said. "That factor has a built-in appeal to a gay audience."

'Star Trek Live:' "Turnabout Intruder" at Oasis: $27.50-$40. (Captain's Table: $250). 298 11 St. February 23, 25, March 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 16, 17 at 7pm. 298 11th St.

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