Valley Playwright’s ‘Star Trek’ Spoof Will Boldly Go to Central Ohio Theater

LISBON, Ohio – A play written by Kandace Cleland, executive director of Stage Left Players, is being picked up by a central Ohio community theater that will stage it later this year.

“A Star Trek Christmas,” a holiday season comedy that spoofs the original television series, will be produced Nov. 15-17 by Riseup Alliance community theater in Lancaster.

The play premiered in 2022 at Stage Left’s Trinity Playhouse, with Cleland as director. The theater brought the show back in December 2023.

For a playwright, having your work selected by another theater is the surest measure of its viability and quality. Cleland has written quite a few plays over the years, but this is the first time that another theater has shown interest in producing one of them.

The Guilford Lake resident was stunned when she got the news.

“I didn’t even breathe,” Cleland said. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s a thrill and an honor.”

Mr. Spock, played by Spencer Cleland, applies a Vulcan mind meld to Sulu, played by Kari Beil, in a scene from “A Star Trek Christmas.”

Judith Cosgray, executive director of Riseup Alliance Theater, is always on the lookout for new shows. When she caught wind of “A Star Trek Christmas,” she was intrigued and contacted Cleland.

“My husband and I watched the original ‘Star Trek,’” Cosgray said. “We are fans, and so is most of our board of directors.”

As a holiday-season title, it was even more attractive to her. Finding a fresh show for the holiday season can be a challenge, she explained.

“It’s nice to get something fun in there,” Cosgray said. “There’s only so many times you can do ‘A Christmas Carol.’” This could bring in a new audience of ‘Star Trek’ fans, or just those who love the nostalgia of it.”

Cosgray’s theater will rent Stage Left’s costumes, props and set pieces for the show, which takes place almost entirely on the bridge of the starship Enterprise.

Cosgray and her husband are both natives of the Mahoning Valley area.

A graduate of South Range High School, both she and her husband lived in Lisbon when they were young.

Cosgray had previously met Cleland at a conference of community theater operators. She follows Stage Left, and other theaters, on social media – which is how she learned about “A Star Trek Christmas.”  

Cleland has written 10 plays for Stage Left’s youth theater, and has also co-written four holiday season musicals with Jodine Pilmer, the theater’s music director. The musicals include “Just Jingle,” “Jingle My Bell,” “Jingle My Bell 2” and “Christmas at Mamaw Jo’s Stop-n-Go.”

All of the shows have been produced by Stage Left.

Cleland said she cannot make money from her “Star Trek” spoof because CBS and Paramount own the rights. She always includes a legal disclaimer on materials that accompany the play, stating it is not affiliated with or sponsored by either of those entities.

Pictured at top: Spencer Cleland, Marshall Hall, Kevin Schreffler, Kari Beil and Brady Duncan in Stage Left’s most recent production of “A Star Trek Christmas.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.