Monday, October 19, 2015

"Star Trek Live! Mudd's Women"

Star Trek Live!  Mudd’s Women
Gene Roddenberry (Original Story); Stephen Kandel (Original Teleplay)
D’Arcy Drollinger & Laurie Bushman (Co-Directors, Oasis Production)

Amber Sommerfield as Spock, Leigh Crow as
James T Kirk and Honey Mahogany as Uhura
As the stage lights come up on the Enterprise deck with Captain Jim Kirk in his command chair and all other key crew positioned just where we remember they should be, the audience goes absolutely wild with applause and hoots.  Having just heard the ‘real’ Jim Kirk’s voice while watching the familiar opening sequence of an outer space sky full of twinkling stars and an approaching Enterprise, we soon realize that we are in fact starting a voyage to “the final frontier … to boldly go where no man has gone before.”  It does not take us long, however, to comprehend that while the crew before us is dressed authentically and is speaking the exact lines of one of the earlier episodes of Star Trek, this trip to the outer fringes will be a far different ride since the men are all drag kings and the women, all drag queens.  Oasis, under the able and creative directorship of D’Arcy Drollinger and Laurie Bushman, has once again put before the San Francisco audience a slightly off-kilter (well, perhaps more than just slightly), incredibly well-done parody (Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women) that will tickle the innards and do nothing for the intellect, which is of course just fine with everyone in this packed audience.

For the few readers who may not have seen this Season One episode of the TV series with probably the largest, loyal cult following of any series before or since, Kirk and crew are pursuing a cargo spaceship that is trying to escape through an asteroid field.  To protect his own crew members and the errant ship’s occupants, Captain Kirk orders the Enterprise’s shields extended, an action that destroys all but one of the power-generating, life-sustaining lithium crystals for his own ship.  Just as the passengers of the pursued ship are transported to the Enterprise (a ‘magical’ feat on this stage that generates tons of laughter), their own ship is destroyed by an asteroid.  Crew and new stowaways head toward a planet where lithium is mined to resupply before the last crystal expires and the Enterprise is doomed.  Eventually, the identities of the beamed-aboard passengers (one gnarly man and three stunningly beautiful women) are revealed to be a criminal sought-after for all sorts of galaxy-spanning misdeeds and three women he is transporting to become wives for lonely, outer planet settlers.  The luring effects of the women on the Enterprise’s male members (including Captain Kirk himself), an extortion scheme by the con man to exchange his female cargo for miners’ lithium crystals, and a decision by one of the hostage women that she no longer wants to be seen as a sex object are all moments of increased drama and intrigue in the original series.  But when drag queens prance about in fluffed wigs with their extended hips and breasts and drag kings huff and puff while scratching their scrotums, these same events lead to hilarious exchanges and mounting zaniness in Star Trek Live!

Touted online as “the world’s only female William Shatner impersonator,” Leigh Crow is worth the price of the ticket to see her Captain Kirk in action.  Constantly mugging for some unseen TV camera, her Kirk gestures with macho brusqueness, walks with full bravado, and speaks in clipped cadences in a voice just deep enough and always with a slight tongue-in-cheek quality to it.  The pauses and looks to the ‘camera’ given after a particularly Kirk-like phrase never fail to bring another round of appreciative laughter from this audience who is soaking in every minute that the Captain is on stage.

Each of the other beloved crew members delivers the looks and lines all Trekkies are hoping for and all non-Trekkies (like myself) can still appreciate.  Honey Mahogany is the sexy, sassy Lieutenant Uhuru who takes no slack from anyone, especially Kirk.  This drag queen uses every opportunity to show off her big bottom to the Captain and to give that knowing look to the audience when a line’s meaning can easily take on (with just the right intonation and rise of the eyebrow) a bawdier meaning than it ever had on the 1966 TV screen.  Scotty is particularly delightful as played by a boyish, heavily browed Emily France.  She emphasizes Scotty’s native brogue to the point we nor Kirk can often understand him (to rounds of more laughter) and plays up in great exaggeration desires to please the Captain and feelings of hurt whenever he fails to do so.  Amber Sommerfeld is an always serious, appropriately smug Mr. Spock.   Zelda Koznofski’s Bones (Dr. McCoy) spars as expected with Spock and buddies up with Kirk.  Ammo Eisu ably holds down the engine room as Sulu.  Members of the crew also double as lovesick, extremely horny miners who are out to pony up to (and mount, if at all possible) one of the transported babes on board the Enterprise.

Jordan L'Moore as Magda, Persia
as Ruth and Jef Valentine as Eve
Much of the humor of this live episode comes from the sneaky and conniving criminal on the run and his tantalizing trio of female impersonators.  Laurie Bushman is the space-traveling, cowboy conman Harcourt Fenton Mudd, playing a bumbling bully who will just as soon spit as smile.  Jordon L’Moore, Persia, and Jef Valentine are three dolls extraordinaire (Magda, Ruth, and Eve) as they primp, priss, and pose on and across the stage, tempting the bug-eyed and tongue-tied Kirk and his crew to forego their Enterprise duties for some hanky-panky in the hallways.  Eve particularly shines when she, humiliated that none of the miners is attracted to her, escapes into a vicious windstorm, roaming in desperation among both audience and the planet’s hostile environs.  All three ‘ladies’ bring the house down as they transform into their original, extremely homely (dare I say ugly) selves once a sparkling pill (the “Venus drug”) Mudd has given them begins to wear away. 

A talented cast alone does not make Star Trek Live: Mudd’s Women the sure-fire fun hit that it is.  Sarah Phykitt has meticulously designed a set and a Captain’s chair that should pass any Trekkie’s scrutinizing eye.  All costumes of the crew and the ‘special guests’ are deliciously dished up in full color and form by Amie Sarazan.  (Comparing an original picture of the three space starlets with these stage drag queens will prove the authenticity sought and the humor acquired.)  D’Arcy Drollinger & Laurie Bushman ably direct on the small, nightclub stage the melodrama and parody version of this classic TV episode where enough truth of the original is kept and so much drag king/queen hilarity has been added.  They are particularly adept time and again in taking TV script lines like “I can see your point” or “Do these ladies come voluntarily?” and turning them into a sexual joke that everyone immediately gets.

For anyone now ready to go see this excellent Oasis remake of Mudd’s Women, the bad news is that all the October episodes are sold out.  The good news is that three weeks of extensions have just been added to the January 2016 calendar.  Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women at the Oasis will be set again to transport at warp speed new audiences to fun beyond the stars.

Rating: 4 E’s

Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women at the Oasis continues in sold-out performances through October 31, 2015 and returns January 7-23, 2016 at 298 Eleventh Street (at Folsom).  Tickets for January are now available online at

Photos by Gareth Gooch.

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