Starship is about an alien planet inhabited by giant insects, called Bug-World. One of these insects, named Bug, comes across a crashed human starship and becomes infatuated with the idea of becoming a Starship Ranger, and he gets his chance when a group of humans land on Bug-World in an attempt to colonize the planet.
The musical was performed February 11-23rd, 2011, at the Hoover-Leppen Theatre in Chicago, Illinois (this was the first StarKid stage production to not be performed on the University of Michigan campus). It was produced by StarKid Productions and directed by Matt Lang. The musical stars an ensemble cast featuring Joey Richter as the lead, Bug. The group put the entire musical up on YouTube on April 30, 2011. The musical's cast recording debuted at No. 134 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 for Top Cast Album.
Act I Edit
Bug, an alien insect from the planet Bug-World, is watching a video about "Starship Rangers" in a crashed starship he has found and longs to be like the humans he sees on the screen. His friend Roach comes to find him for the job assigning ceremony and voices his dislike for Bug's constant returning to the ship and talk of Starship Rangers. Bug seems certain that he is not like everyone else and that he is destined for greater things than simple bug jobs, ("I Wanna Be"). Shortly after, Bug runs into Bugette, a caterpillar assigned with carrying an egg sac until it hatches. It is clear she is romantically interested in Bug, but he rebuffs her advances. When time to be assigned his job by the Overqueen, Roach is given the prestigious job of "Queen Impregnator", while Bug is stuck with being an "egg planter."
Suddenly, a starship arrives on Bug-World, and Starship Ranger February of the Galactic League of Extraterrestrial Exploration (G.L.E.E.) touches down on the planet's surface. February is beautiful but dim and is desperate to prove herself as a true Starship Ranger. She quickly meets with what she believes to be the planet's indigenous life, but quickly runs into the Mosquito brothers who chase her. She ends up being captured by a couple of "mammal wranglers."
The Starship Rangers remaining on the ship: formerly tough Commander Up, tough second-in-command tomboy Taz, brainy Specs, mellow Krayonder, and the sweet and simple Tootsie Noodles, receive a distress signal that their comrade is in danger.
Before the team leaves, Junior, the son of the president of G.L.E.E., gives them an androidnamed Mega-Girl to take along, which the team reluctantly accepts because of the not-so-long-ago Robot Wars. Up received a famous injury during the Robot Wars so he is reluctant to go at all, but Taz convinces him that he is still the man he once was, and is still the man who inspired her to become the person she is today, ("Get Back Up").
Bug isn't adapting well to his first day of being an egg planter because all he can think about are the worlds beyond the stars, ("Life"). Bug finds February, who has been blinded by bug mucus and is being held captive. Because she cannot see, and Bug is the only Bug-World inhabitant who knows the human language from watching the video on the crashed ship so many times, February thinks that Bug is another captured Starship Ranger. Bug sees this as his opportunity to live out his dreams, so he frees February and runs away with her. He runs into Bugette, however, who wanted to bring Bug an egg carrier she made herself, but is shocked that he is running away with a human, ("Life (Reprise))"
Up and the other Rangers find their way to where February's communication device's signal is coming from and encounter some of the bug inhabitants of Bug-World. They try to fight off the "monsters" and the bug inhabitants try to protect themselves from the "invaders", ("Hideous Creatures").
Bug tries to tell February the truth amongst the fighting between the Rangers and bugs, but is interrupted when Mega-Girl attacks him with her lasers, ultimately causing Bug to run away and the Rangers to regain February. However, Mega-Girl betrays the Rangers and leaves them behind, taking only the now-unconscious February with her.
Bug is brought before the Overqueen because of his actions, and is sentenced to death. Before he can be squashed, Roach arrives and sticks up for him, using his high status to save his friend. Because of this, the Overqueen lets Bug live, but forbids him from ever leaving the hive, or making contact with humans again (or singing). It is revealed a jealous Bugette was the one who informed the Overqueen to Bug's actions, but she didn't mean for Bug to be punished so harshly. She tries to apologize and offers to take him out on a date to make him feel better, but Bug is too upset and shouts that he will never love her. Bugette crawls away crying.
Bug is then visited by the Mosquito brothers who take Bug to meet their boss, Pincer. Bug and Pincer discuss how they each want to befriend the humans and don't want to do the jobs the Overqueen assigned them to. Bug explains that he knows the human language, but February believes that he is a human. Pincer doesn't see this as a problem because he knows how to use a "brain leech" indigenous to the bug world. It allows two creatures to become psychically linked if each has one. Pincer tells Bug his idea- he'll give Bug two leeches so Bug can transfer his mind into a human body stored a cryotube recovered from the crashed starship that is brain dead- so he can become a human Starship Ranger. Pincer's only condition is that Bug befriends the humans and brings them "for dinner". Bug eagerly agrees, not knowing that Pincer intends to eat their brains and let the Mosquito Brothers suck their blood, ("Kick It Up a Notch").
The Rangers escape from the bugs, but are not dealing well with being stranded on the bug planet, especially Taz- who finally realizes that Up has gone soft since the end of the Robot Wars- and she takes over as the leader of the Rangers.
The team then gets stuck in a giant spider's web, but Bug- now in the human body- tells the spider not to eat them and joins the Rangers, who think he is the sole survivor of the starship crash from eighteen years before. The group decides to find February's ship to get back to their own. Roach tries to talk Bug out of going, but he has made up his mind to live his dream, ("Status Quo").
Act II Edit
Junior contacts the leader of G.L.E.E., Evil Dr. Spaceclaw and gives him the current situation of their mission. It turns out Junior sent February to the planet by herself so she would be implanted with a bug egg. That way, he could take her back to Earth and mass-produce an alien bug army. Spaceclaw, who is Junior's father, is pleased with his son's work but threatens him to return with the bug soon. However, when Mega-Girl scans February, no alien life is detected.
The Rangers make it back to the ship, but Junior quickly thinks of a way to keep the ship near the planet by telling the Rangers that the ship's warp crystals are missing, meaning they are stuck there. Everyone goes their separate ways to rest before beginning the hunt for the crystals. Taz is still giving Up the cold shoulder, and refuses to spend time with him, saddening Up. Tootsie confesses his feelings for Mega-Girl, while Bug struggles to tell February the truth about himself, ("The Way I Do").
Bug goes to Up for some advice about his situation with February, but ends up helping Up overcome his feelings of weakness. And Up confesses that during the Robot War, he and Taz fought together, Taz was flanked by robots. In an attempt to protect her, Up tried to help her, but got hurt in the process, revealing his famous injury. Bug tells Up that by caring for people, it does not make one weak- it actually makes them stronger. Up convinces Bug that being himself is what is important, and so Bug decides to take February back to Bug-World to show her his true self and that not all bugs are bad.
Junior overhears this and plans to go after them so he can kill Bug and re-initiate his plan of getting February implanted with a bug egg. Junior asks Mega-Girl to keep the Rangers distracted, but she refuses because of her feelings for Tootsie. Junior removes her inhibitor chip, causing her to become what all robots are at their cores: mindless killing machines.
Meanwhile, Bug brings February back to Bug-World to try to show her his true self through bug culture. The other bugs look at the humans with disgust, but Roach explains that there is beauty in everything and try to show that to February, ("Beauty"). February is less than impressed with Bug-World, leading Bug to have second thoughts about revealing his secret. February suddenly has the idea that Bug must have brought her to Bug-World to take her to his crashed starship to obtain its warp crystals. Junior follows after them, but is captured by the Mosquito brothers.
Bug brings February to the crashed starship, and the two stumble upon a more complete version of the video Bug had been watching, revealing that G.L.E.E. already knew about the bug inhabitants and sent the crew to capture one, but they were all killed by a mysterious monster. February then puts the pieces together to Junior's plan, and the duo rushes back to the ship to warn the other Rangers.
As this is going on, Junior is brought to Pincer's lair, where Pincer reveals that he killed the survivors of the starship crash eighteen years before, and that Bug, who is in fact a bug, is actually working for him. Junior tells Pincer that Bug is working with the humans, so in exchange for his life, weapons, and secrets about the Overqueen and her hive, Junior forms an alliance with Pincer and promises to get him humans to eat.
Bug and February return to the starship where they tell the crew about Junior's diabolical plan. As another ship docks, the crew prepares to arrest Junior. Suddenly, Pincer and the Mosquito brothers invade the ship and Pincer coerces Bug into telling the Rangers the truth about him by threatening to kill February. Taz decides to make the Mosquito brothers follow her instead of the other rangers. Up, being very protective of Taz, runs after her.
Just before Pincer can begin eating the Rangers, Mega-Girl attacks Tootsie and Specs. Tootsie reveals he changed his last name to Megagirl (on his planet, a person's last name is what they love) and affirms that he loves her even though she is a robot. Tootsie's showing of affection causes her to overcome her programming and download emotion software, allowing them to be together.
Meanwhile, The Mosquito brothers ambush Taz and start sucking her blood. Up, seeing the bugs hurting Taz, tells them to suck his blood instead. When they do, Up starts using breathing exercises to force each of them to drink more of his blood than their bodies can handle and they violently explode. Up and Taz are ecstatic that he is still tough and Up realizes that Bug was right—he needed to learn to kill "with [his] heart"; and that caring about Taz doesn't make him weak, but only made him stronger. The two of them then go to help the other Rangers.
In a heroic attempt to save February from being eaten by Pincer, Bug stabs Pincer and locks the two of them in the ship's airlock. Bug confesses his love for February and says his final goodbyes to his friends before having February jettison himself and Pincer from the airlock into space.
Because his human body was destroyed, Bug's mind returns to his bug body on Bug-World, where Junior is attacking the hive, ("Kick It Up a Notch (Reprise)"). Bug catches up with Junior, who wants to take the Overqueen with him, even though it means the whole hive will die without her. Junior fires his weapon at Bug, and Bugette (who still loves him despite the fact he loves February) jumps in the way of the bullets, sacrificing herself for Bug. Her larvathen spring from her egg sac and attack Junior, devouring him. The bugs rejoice that their hive has been saved and pay tribute to the fallen Bugette.
The Overqueen, due to Bug's actions, appoints Bug as an ambassador between Bug-World and other planets, but Bug decides to seek out his Ranger friends to see if he still deserves the job. Up and the starship crew lay Bug's human body (or what little of it they were able to salvage from space) to rest. Bug shows his true self to them and February- who loves him despite her distaste for bugs- kisses him. Tootsie and Mega-Girl get married, and humans, bugs, and machines all learn to live together in harmony, ("Beauty (Reprise)").
Cast and characters Edit
Excluding Joey Richter, all the actors also performed minor ensemble roles throughout the musical.
A.J. Holmes cameos as the Starship captain in a video that Bug watches during the musical. A number of other StarKid members also have uncredited cameos in the opening video portion of Starship, a Starship Ranger recruitment video, including Chris Allen, Tyler Brunsman, Richard Campbell, Britney Coleman, Arielle Goldman, Devin Lytle, Lily Marks, Nicholas Joseph Strauss-Matathia, and Brian Rosenthal. The video also features narration from voice actor Bob Joles.
Starship is the first StarKid-related project Meredith Stepien has performed in since 2007's Little White Lie.
Because Starship was staged in Chicago and not in Michigan, many StarKid members who had yet to graduate were only able to make video appearances, such as those above. Joey Richter was the only StarKid member who had yet to graduate to appear in Starship.
This was the first StarKid Production in which Darren Criss did not make an appearance (he was filming Glee at the time of the production): his absence is referenced when Commander Up yells "Damn that G.L.E.E.! They're always making twisted abominations of everything!" He also winked at the crowd where Darren was sitting watching the performance. Another reference was Brian Holden as Junior wearing Criss's signature pink Wayfarers.
Musical numbers Edit
Production on Starship began before Darren Criss landed his role on Glee. The original concept for the show came from StarKid ensemble member Joe Walker, who suggested to Criss a musical parody of Starship Troopers. Criss then expanded the concept, referring to it as "The Little Mermaid meets Aliens". Incidentally, Darren was originally meant to play the part of Tootsie Noodles before becoming occupied by Glee.
The puppet used for Roach was later used as a background puppet in the webseries World's Worst Musical (which featured guest appearances by various StarKid members).
The musical was premiered February 11-23rd, 2011, at the Hoover-Leppen Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. It then had sold out screenings in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. The group put the entire musical up on YouTube on April 30, 2011.
Main article: Starship (soundtrack)
A cast recording of the production was released on April 30, 2011, alongside the YouTube premiere of the musical, through iTunes and Amazon.com. All of the songs featured on stage are present on the recording. The album debuted at No. 134 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 for Top Cast Albums.
Critical reception Edit
Starship won the Best New Work award in the 2011 BroadwayWorld Chicago Awards.