Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Patrick Stewart on Stage: The Starlog Project, Starlog #186, January 1993

Many years ago, actually probably not too far off from when this January 1993 issue of Starlog appeared, I lived briefly in Indianapolis. One fine day, a friend and I went to see Patrick Stewart on stage. He was touring with a one-man show in which he offered vignettes of various famous men from the history of the arts.

Naturally, he had bits of Shakespeare and other expected sources. But the best bit was what he didn’t do; he didn’t pander to all of us in the audience who expected some extended Captain Jean-Luc Picard scenes. Instead, about midway through his program, he mentioned the Picard character, walked over to the chair in the center of the stage, tugged on his tunic and sat down. All very Picardesque. The audience roared. Then he went on to other, non-Trek characters.

The show was great, and it probably introduced a lot of Star Trek fans to characters they’d never heard of or at least have never seen performed before. I hardly need to mention that Stewart is a great actor, and he made every minute of the show quite worth the price of the ticket.

But this was actually his less-known stage performance of the early 1990s. This issue of Starlog features an interview with the actor that focuses on his one-man Broadway stage performance of A Christmas Carol. I never had the opportunity to see this show, and I apparently missed something big. Stewart reportedly played to sold-out houses and rave reviews, just what any actor hopes to get. As he tells Starlog: “I had often imagined – all actors have, particularly, of course, British actors – what it would be like to be in a very successful show on Broadway. I had never projected myself into a successful solo show, a one-man show, so that made the whole experience that much more intense and exciting.”

Starlog #186
84 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

There are some personnel changes this issue. Editor David McDonnell says good-bye to longtime contributor Lia Pelosi, who is moving on; and Maureen McTigue is joining the staff as associate editor. Pelosi has used her post-Starlog life well, working as an editor at Marvel Comics and a string of major book publishers, including John Wiley & Sons and Random House. (No, I don’t know that off the top of my head. Google was invented for moments like this.)

The rundown: Patrick Stewart is in full Christmas Carol mode on the cover; meanwhile, Mel Gibson is in Forever Young mode on the contents page. David McDonnell’s Medialog column informs us that Mel Gibson has another project in process: a film revival of the old TV series Maverick. Michael McAvennie’s Gamelog column reviews Universal Soldier, More Cosmic Encounter, Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game, and others. And Communications letters dissect the late Beauty & the Beast, Gene Roddenberry worshippers and detractors, and the alleged paucity of new ship models on Star Trek: The Next Generation, while Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile features flying saucer aliens.

A bunch of classic adventures, such as Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films, The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Jason and the Argonauts, and others, are released on video, as David Hutchison notes in his Videolog column. The Booklog section reviews Legends Reborn, The Magic of Christmas, Alien Earth, Speaking in Tongues, Blood Trillium, The Collected Stores of Robert Silverberg, Volume One: The Secret Sharers, The Eye of the Hunter, Time, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream, Nightside the Long Sun, and Mutant Legacy. Maureen McTigue takes up where Lia Pelosi left off and assembles the directory of fan clubs and publications in Fan Network, which also features the usual convention listings. And Kerry O’Quinn gets a tour of the Skywalker Ranch by his buddy Howard Roffman, a Lucas executive, and tells us, “Insiders say that [Lucas] has developed another Star Wars trilogy and hopes to begin working with writers and directors so that the premiere of the first film (the actual beginning of the entire saga) can be May 1997 – the 20th anniversary of Luke Skywalker’s materialization.”

The always-great Tom Weaver interviews Anne Francis, who discusses her work in the classic Forbidden Planet, including her impressions of fellow Forbidden star Leslie Nielsen, whom she says she “was madly in love with! Les was a very gentle, kind, terrific guy, just as he is today. He had a great sense of humor; today it has become more extreme than it was when I worked with him in those days.” David Hutchison talks to producer Brian Henson about the new film, The Muppet Christmas Carol. And Lynne Stephens talks about another Christmas Carol with stage and screen performer Patrick Stewart.

Marc Shaprio previews Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and gets all the awkward introductions of new characters and actors out of the way. Kim Howard Johnson interviews director Steve Miner about his new film Forever Young, which stars Mel Gibson, Jamie Lee Curtis, George Wendt, and Elijah Wood, all of whom Miner praises like there’s no tomorrow. Peter Bloch-Hansen profiles actor Adrian Paul, who talks about TV’s War of the Worlds (apparently it was a show with serious script difficulties) and his current gig as star of Highlander. And Ian Spelling chats with composer Alan Menken about the music for Disney’s Aladdin.

Coralee Grebe makes her first appearance in Starlog’s pages with “Heir to the Wars,” an interview with Star Wars novelist Timothy Zahn. Alain Bourassa and Mark Phillips continue their in-depth look at The Immortal. Joe Nazzaro investigates the cult British science-fiction comedy Red Dwarf, including a sidebar on the failed American version of the show. And David McDonnell wraps it all up with a grab bag of news, including an aside that Fangoria Films has released three films; those three films (for which my home state of Wisconsin played at least a partial role as a film set) were not exactly blockbusters, and I later heard the publisher say that the company didn’t make any money out of the deal, so an aside like this is probably all they deserve.
“More than anyone else, my father was responsible in those early days for eliminating the puppet proscenium that was commonly used. It was the usual practice to see puppet characters confined to a small stage with the human performers standing alongside. Jim broke that proscenium and used the TV screen itself as a picture frame. He experimented with lenses, preferring a wide-angle lens, so that his creations could work sometimes only mere inches in front of the camera. This technique created an extraordinary sense of immediacy and led to refinements in detailing and very precise lip-sync techniques. Also, a puppet usually had a single costume that never changes and which helped to define the character. Jim was always changing his characters’ wardrobe. Jim created beings. Kermit wasn’t a frog when he was created, Kermit was … an organic creature. He became a frog later on.”
–Brian Henson, president and CEO of Jim Henson Productions, interviewed by David Hutchison: “The Muppet Christmas Carol”
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

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