Theresa Noon is walking a tightrope. The Canadian stage, screen and film actress stars as a Vulcan in the touring version of Star Trek Live, and throughout the show she interacts – in character, in costume, calmly and logically – not just with a co-star portraying a human, but with audience members selected to join in the fun.
“I’m from 2650, which is very exciting to me, to be playing someone from way in the future, someone who’s not human,” Noon told StarTrek.com during a recent telephone interview. “The challenges of playing a Vulcan are incredible because, for an actor, by nature we’re emotional beings. And I’m petite. I’m five-feet tall. So it’s funny to be playing somebody with such power and superiority, without showing any emotion, and to be in my little Vulcan costume, looking up at my much-taller co-actor and telling his character what to do. But everyone can relate to the story. It takes the humans and the aliens, and they come together, and then we’re interacting with the audience, which is new and exciting. That’s an interesting concept for an actor because we’re not just playing with the fourth wall, and I’m not just playing to my co-actor on the stage. I’m playing out to the audience, so they’re part of this adventure as well.”
OK, but what about those audience members – and this can happen – who may try to get a rise out of Noon, who might attempt to elicit an emotion, any emotion or human-like reaction, be it anger or a laugh or even just a momentary flash of frustration? Noon, who always appreciated Star Trek but never considered herself a diehard fan, and who closely watched the performances of Vulcan predecessors as Leonard Nimoy, Mark Lenard, Zachary Quinto, Ben Cross, Kirstie Alley and especially Jolene Blalock as she prepared for Star Trek Live, is quick with a reply. “I have dealt with that before,” Noon says, laughing. “I’ve dealt with it in other capacities before on stage, but never to this extreme, never something so huge, where everyone knows what my character is supposed to do, how I’m supposed to react. There are people out there who know a lot more about Star Trek than I do, who’ll know the right things to say or do to try to get me going, for sure. But I think I’ll be ready. Vulcans are actually quite emotional beings, but they just suppress their emotions. So I’ll rely on that.
The plot of Star Trek Live unfolds at Starfleet Academy, where cadets are gathered for their first day, a day in which they’ll meet Captain Kirk and science officer Spock and tour the U.S.S. Enterprise. During their visit to the legendary ship, aliens attack, and suddenly it’s up to the cadets on hand to save the day. The audience, of course, represents the cadets, and throughout the show they’ll learn about science, logic, space exploration, communications and technology, all delivered within a Star Trek-themed framework as imagined by Mad Science, a long-established producer of live, science-driven entertainment presentations.
“What I love is that we’re crediting everyone in the room with intelligence, because only the brightest and the best can be part of Starfleet,” says Noon, who segued directly from a two-year stint with Mad Science’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation production into Star Trek Live. “The first person I’ll interact with in the audience is someone who’s supposed to help me prove that I’m not human. My co-actor on stage is human, and he’s a Starfleet instructor, and he’s not buying that I’m Vulcan. He thinks it’s a trick, and so I bring someone up on stage to help me demonstrate the differences between humans and Vulcans. We have quite a bit of that going on during the show, and it really makes it a lot of fun.
Star Trek Live is running now at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, and the touring edition of the show is currently playing around the country. Noon is not only the star of the traveling show, she’s also its tour/stage manager, overseeing many of the day-to-day logistics and even helping to drive trucks and erect sets as the production wends its way from city to city. Noon will remain with the production for a good, long while, until at least April, 2011, and, given the paucity of work available to actors these days, the actress sounds thrilled to have her dance card full for the next year.
“It’s huge to me,” Noon enthuses. “It’s a blessing. It’s amazing to know not just that I’ll have a job for the next year, but to be doing something exciting. When I was touring with CSI, people had heard that Star Trek was coming, and I could hear how excited people are about Star Trek Live and I know already the excitement that’s awaiting me when I arrive at some of these cities where we’ll be doing the show. One of the other things to note, which I’m very proud of, is that Star Trek Live is for the whole family to enjoy. It’s not a kids’ show in the sense that adults will be there just to support their children. It’s really for everyone. It’s a more mature script than they’ve ever done for a Mad Science show. So it’s going to appeal to all the Star Trek fans, but also to a child, to people who are not as familiar with Star Trek. Everyone will grasp it and enjoy it. They’ve done an amazing job of widening the spectrum on the show, and I can’t wait for people to see it.”
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