Generations of fans know George Takei as the indefatigable Mr. Sulu from "Star Trek," and he has become popular as the Japanese patriarch of the hit show "Heroes" and as a regular guest on "The Howard Stern Show." But this weekend, Twin Cities concertgoers will get to see the 70-year-old actor in a new role: orchestra host.
Takei will appear Friday and Saturday night with the Minnesota Orchestra as part of "To Boldly Go ... ", the finale of the ensemble's Sounds of Cinema film-music series. He replaces the originally scheduled Leonard Nimoy, who had to cancel because he was too busy filming the new "Star Trek" movie, in which he reprises his role as Spock.
Conducted by Sarah Hatsuko Hicks, the program will feature music from "Star Trek," "Star Wars" and other space-bound sources.
"Music is an organic part of so many science-fiction films," Takei said. "When you're boldly going where no one has gone before, that also involves the spirit soaring, and music is the vehicle that transports you there."
The concert also will feature excerpts from Gustav Holst's "The Planets," including "Mars" and "Jupiter." An asteroid between those two planets, 7307 Takei, was named after the actor last year.
Takei will provide spoken accompaniment, but the concerts will have a visual element, too. Images from the Mars Exploration Rover and Hubble Space Telescope missions will be projected on a screen above the orchestra as it plays.
"It's really going to be tremendous," Takei said.
Although the actor has never appeared with an orchestra in the Twin Cities -- he has come to town to speak at colleges and appear at "Star Trek" conventions -- he has been a guest orator with ensembles such as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Orange County Wind Orchestra and Long Island Philharmonic.
The Southern Californian described winters in New York City as being "absolutely deadly," which doesn't bode well for his first trip to Minneapolis in February.
"I will brace myself," he said with a laugh.
Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542.