Outdoor theater: Star Trek's final frontier

(CBS News) From Shakespeare in New York to Portland, Oregon and a stellar performance of a very different sort. Lee Cowan beams us there.

Portland Oregon - nestled in the evergreen shadow of Mount Hood - is a place that prides itself on being a little different.

So perhaps the bright blue aliens - along with the Pig People we found inhabiting a Portland park - fit right in.

Look strange? Actually they look very familiar to those who recognize that slightly crooked eyebrow -- or a particularly pointed ear.

Ring a bell yet? Don't worry. This probably will: The soundtrack to "Trek in the Park" - as in Star Trek performed in the park.

Shakespeare's got nothing on Captain Kirk.

No one has ever attempted putting Gene Roddenberry's sci-fi classic onto the stage quite like this.

It's the creation of Adam and Amy Rosko - a brother and sister theater team who started "Trek in the Park" four years ago to see if they could take 40-year-old screenplays and turn them into live theater.

"We made an agreement that if it didn't work, we were moving out of Portland," Adam said. "We're running for the hills if this doesn't work."

Their latest episode - "Journey to Babel' -- is faithful to every word of the original "Star Trek" episode.

"Everything about it still resonates," Adam said. "The stories are still good. They're still, yeah, campy, but that's part of why we love it."

This earth-bound Enterprise is crewed mostly by Adam's longtime theater buddies.

(SOT/JESSE 05:25:45)

"At the time, we were roommates," recalled friend Jesse Graff, "and he came to me and he said, 'so I have this idea. You know, stay with me...' I said all right, and he says 'we're going to do Star Trek in the Park' ...Okaaaay."

Graff was skeptical at first -- but the part of Spock was too good to turn down. Graff has perfected Spock's trademark line -- "fascinating" - and even has the eyebrow twitch.

No one takes themselves too seriously here, but boldly going where no theater project has gone before takes a lot of work.

There are months of writing, and weeks of rehearsals -- and choreography.

Captain Kirk's over-the-top fight scenes don't just happen. Every cast member takes the script seriously -- like literature. Just ask Paul Pistey, who plays Dr. McCoy.

"You can't come out here and make a mockery of it or people are not gonna receive it as well," Pistey said. "You have to respect your source material."

There is the obvious downside to all this - something any closet Trekkie fears: being mercilessly mocked.

"There's name calling, whatever. But like, you can't take that personally or anything," Adam says.

What do they say?

"Pathetic Geeks!" Adam and Amy laugh.

It's a labor of love. Admission is free and they don't get paid; in fact they dig into their own pockets to keep the production going.

It's so famously low budget that the seats on the bridge are actually someone's kitchen chairs.

And guess who makes the costumes?

Captain Kirk's mom.

"We do have a rip once in a while or a hem or just something, and I'm here to sew it back up again," says Marge Rosko. "That's what mothers are for."

Marge Rosko is a Trekkie through and through. She even has the tattoo to prove it - the Star Trek costume designers' mark.

She knows every episode -- and couldn't be more proud.

And the accolades have reached all the way city hall, where last year, Portland's Mayor declared a "Trek in the Park" month.

Adam and Amy are surprised at how big it's become.

"Oh, I'm blown away. Absolutely. In our first year, I was expecting to top out at 200," Amy said.

They now get close to 1,000 at every performance -- so popular, they had to find a bigger park, more grass for the faithful.

"It's gleeful," says Trekkie Greg Rucka. "It is pure and loving and absolutely sincere. And that's what makes it terrific."

Captain Kirk's original five year mission was "to seek out new life and new civilizations." Turns out, all he had to do was come to a park in Portland to find it.

For performance schedules, directions & more on the people behind "Trek in the Park," visit: www.atomic-arts.org

To visit Orbit and for more info: http://www.arcelormittalorbit.com/

  • Lee Cowan

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