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Star Trek: Letters to Cleo on Bringing "Subspace Rhapsody" to Life

Letters to Cleo singer Kay Hanley & former drummer Tom Polce on bringing Star Trek: Strange New World's Musical "Subspace Rhapsody" to life.

Letters to Cleo was one of the more popular alternative bands of the 90s, forming at the start of the decade before disbanding in 2000. The group has since reunited in 2008 and 2014 – and since 2016, it has remained active to this day. Founder and lead singer Kay Hanley and former drummer Tom Polce found a second life working in film and television. Hanley and Polce reunited in one of the most unique experiences in Star Trek franchise history in the Strange New Worlds musical episode "Subspace Rhapsody." The episode found the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise working with a new subspace relay when an accident caused them to perform and randomly burst into song while trying to do their most mundane of routine activities.

Star Trek: Letters to Cleo on Bringing
Cr: Paramount+

"The idea that we were writing for these canon figures in pop culture history and sci-fi lore, we couldn't f— it up," Hanley told Entertainment Weekly. "We took it very seriously, as we do as people from New England. We are rule followers, and we do things. We do our research; we do our homework." Her background in the series was watching The Original Series with her father growing up in Boston station. "I had some knowledge of how seriously people take this shit," she adds. "It's a 'Star Trek' musical, so my head exploded when it came up. Kay's head exploded," Polce adds. "Can you imagine somebody who's a completist for Star Trek hearing that there is a musical? I mean, their heads went fully nuclear. And in some cases, no matter how well we did it, it's reasonable to think that some people aren't going to even be open to it. So, we needed to make extra certain that we did an honorable and forthright and virtuous swing."

strange new worlds
Photo Credit: Best Possible Screengrab/Paramount+

One of the most memorable sequences featured the return of Bruck Horak, who was the original Enterprise chief engineer, Hemmer, lost in the season one penultimate episode. While he previously returned in sequences with his friend, communications officer Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Horak made his cameo as the Klingon general Garkog. Disturbed about what the array is doing to his fellow crewmembers on his ship, like bursting into a K-Pop-style sequence, he's determined to destroy what's causing the embarrassment. "It'll just lead to a bunch of, 'Well, did you copy that?'" Hanley said. "What we wrote doesn't sound anything like this particular K-pop band." "But it got us in that world," Polce notes. "She pitched it to me and my head exploded. Then she pitched it to the showrunners and the writers, which we were both a little apprehensive about. They were immediately like, 'Oh hell yes, we're going to do that.'" For more, including the pushback Hanley & Polce received and the alternate sequence that saw the Klingons sing opera instead, the trial and error of determining the SNW cast's vocal range, and how "Subspace Rhapsody" comes to their previous work, you can check out the interview here.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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