Review: ‘Shatner’s World’ On Broadway + Opening Night Pix | TrekMovie.com
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Review: ‘Shatner’s World’ On Broadway + Opening Night Pix February 17, 2012

by Jordan Hoffman , Filed under: Conventions/Events/Attractions,Review,Shatner , trackback

Last night Star Trek’s original Kirk William Shatner opened his new Broadway show "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" (which will be going on the road for a US tour next month). This new one-man show is an evolution from his 2011 tours in Australia and Canada. TrekMovie was in New York to see if it was Shat-tastic. Read the review below, accompanied by photos from opening night. 

 

REVIEW: "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" on Broadway

When asked if I wanted to cover opening night of William Shatner’s one man show on Broadway for TrekMovie, my immediate reaction was “I can do that.” Little did I know how much that decision would be in league with the spirit of the show. I’d seen a press release here or there that this thing was happening but it wasn’t until I made it to the Theater District – usually a part of Manhattan I only visit when I have relatives in from out of town – when it hit me. Captain Kirk on Broadway. What the hell is that all about?!?

“Shatner’s World” is about 100 straight minutes of unfiltered Shatner. To some that sounds like a dream come true, to others a true vision inside of George Orwell’s Room 101. I feel confident in saying that your appreciation of the show is entirely predictable based on your attitudes toward the man. As a fanatical Star Trek fan I, of course, love my first Captain and I keep an amused appreciation of his current work, be it “Shatner’s Raw Nerve” or “The Captains.”

The all Shatner event starts with music of the original Star Trek theme and a shaft of light hitting center stage, with the implication (and sound effect) of a transporter in progress. Then suddenly Shatner enters from stage left jibing "I’m not going to beam in" and he kicks off the show.


William Shatner in "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" on Broadway at the Music Box Theater – Opening Night February 16, 2012 (Photo: Joan Marcus)

“Shatner’s World” is a loosely strung together narrative of Bill telling his life story.  If you frequent conventions, read any of Shatner’s memoirs or saw “The Captains” you probably heard some of these stories before. Still, the man knows how to spin a yarn, and when he gets rollin’ he can really play an audience.

There isn’t too much of a narrative thread in the show, but most of his remembrances are in chronological order. Some of the funnier stories are from his childhood and student years, but things actually take a turn for the poignant when he discusses his father’s death and an incident involving difficulties with one of his prize horses. When he’s goofing around he’s charming, but when he has to draw the audience in and do some actual acting, he’s alarmingly effective.


William Shatner in "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" on Broadway at the Music Box Theater – Opening Night February 16, 2012 (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The (mostly) bare stage uses video projection onto a circular screen (it has a “screensaver” mode of galaxies, naturally) and relevant video or stills appear to compliment whatever story is being told. Surprisingly (and, to me and perhaps you, too) there isn’t that much Star Trek content in the show. There are two clips from Trek – the “risk is our business” monologue and Kirk’s death from “Generations.” (The latter prompts a dopey gag, “usually it’s Captain on the bridge – here was bridge on the Captain!”) During some of the vamping between more rehearsed sequences there was a lighthearted zing or two tossed towards George Takei, but other than that and a passing mention to Leonard Nimoy when discussing the “Golden Throats” albums, that’s all you’ll hear about Trek alumni. This is, very much, Shatner’s show.

And at the end, he sings. Not “Rocket Man,” not “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” (heck, there’s a moment when he’s about to sing “Happy Birthday” but stops himself because “that would cost money!”) but fans of the “Has Been” album will get a kick out of what he chooses to close with.


William Shatner in "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" on Broadway at the Music Box Theater – Opening Night February 16, 2012 (Photo: Joan Marcus)

As the show makes its way toward the end some attempt is made to tie together all of these observations and anecdotes. Shatner concludes that life is harsh, frightening and reluctant to give answers (yeah, it gets strangely dark for a moment or two) but that the power of love can ease the pain, and the only way to find love is to always be saying “I can do that” to any opportunity that comes your way.

This is reiterated with some stories of how saying yes led to important moments in his life – like getting a practical joke played on him by NASA, recording music with Ben Folds and having a sexually charged encounter with an 800 lb gorilla.

If I have a chief complaint about the show is that there is a definite problem with the flow. Try as he might to create segues, there isn’t much of a connection between the stories and not all of them have a nice button of a closer. Much of the show is like listening to a great friend keep you entertained during dinner and then, when prompted “what happened then?” brushing you off with, “well, nothing really.” Despite taking great joy in listening to Bill Shatner, say, describe racing against the sun from Vancouver to Chicago with a Rabbi and his wife in the back of his car, there were a few awkward moments of “yeah, and. . .that’s it?” before charging into a nearly entirely unrelated next story.


William Shatner in "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" on Broadway at the Music Box Theater – Opening Night February 16, 2012 (Photo: Joan Marcus)

For those that are not fond of William Shatner, you may get hives at some of the more self-congratulatory moments in the show. The clip of from “The Captains” of Shatner describing to Patrick Stewart that he is now free to be proud of his work on Star Trek was tough enough to watch the first time – it’s even tougher when the man thumping his chest is a few feet from you watching the scene, too.

As a fan, I was able to brush this aside. If you are someone who has been to a convention and seen how Shatner can just get on stage and go, then thought “man, I could watch that happen for over and hour and a half without a break,” then “Shatner’s World” is just the show you’ve been waiting for.


William Shatner in "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" on Broadway at the Music Box Theater – Opening Night February 16, 2012 (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The limited run of "Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It" continues at the Music Box Theater (where Marlon Brando performed in his first show! Historic!) until March 4th. Bill then hits the road for engagements in fifteen cities across the USA in March and April. For more specific info and tickets, visit www.ShatnersWorld.com.

 

Jordan Hoffman is a friend of TrekMovie and a New York-based freelance writer and critic.

Comments

1. Harry Ballz - February 17, 2012

Gee, I wonder if the Shat is enjoying all the attention?

2. Amish Electrician - February 17, 2012

Shat has a hole in his right shoe..

3. denny cranium - February 17, 2012

@#2
Really? Is that all you’ve got?

It’s interesting that Shatner only gave a cursory look at his Trek years.
Considering its his iconic role and arguably why he is the celebrity he is today I would have hoped for more Trek stories.
Maybe its a double edged sword for him.If he focused too much on Trek the critics would have blasted him for making this a Trek convention on Broadway.
Perhaps the show will evolve as he gets some valid feedback.
Thanks to Jordan for giving us his review

4. Bobby - February 17, 2012

This sounds pretty awesome.

I was really tempted until I saw the price – tickets start at about $80 per person (including fees). Yikes. At least in Dallas, that’s the closest show to where I live.

5. Danpaine - February 17, 2012

I’d like to see it. Or a dvd of it.

Good for him. He’s had/still has a long, interesting career.

Besides being by far my favorite Captain, I respect the work he’s done. Just the other night I watched his Twilight Zone episode “Nick Of Time,” from 1960. Great stuff. And here in 2012 he’s still out there, doing his thing.

That’s a lot to be proud of.

6. captain_neill - February 17, 2012

I’d love to see this show. I love Shatner and it sounds epic.

7. I Wish I Was Spock - February 17, 2012

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is made into a DVD…in fact, I hope it does!

8. CmdrR - February 17, 2012

Wonder what he’ll do for his 101st birthday?

Shat’s not anything you expect, but he always holds your attention.

9. rm10019 - February 17, 2012

6 – I can assure you it is not epic. I attended the first night of previews, and was ready for an epic, Broadway worthy show but unfortunately was disappointed.

I have written a review over at TrekBBS, but suffice it to say, if this is Mr. Shatner’s attempt for the Tony (in the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony EGOT) all we are left with after the show is EGO.

I give him much credit for doing any one-man show, but with little actual ‘performance’ this show didn’t have enough substance, and I am a life-long Trek and Shatner fan.

10. Baroner - February 17, 2012

PLEASE Bob Orci and crew, ask Shat to be in the new movie.

11. Anthony Thompson - February 17, 2012

MJ, I’ll be waiting for your review.

12. Lt. Bailey - February 17, 2012

This is going to be seen on EPICs like his CAPTAINS documentry which I eventually bought on DVD anyway. This is most likely to come out on DVD too in a few months, Shatner has updates on his website if you know what to look for.

13. Gary Seven - February 17, 2012

I am not at all surprised that Shatner gave such little attention to Trek. He has been consistent, throughout his life, in not articulating the meaning and importance of Star Trek to so many people. I contrast this with, for example, Leonard Nimoy’s many thoughtful statements on Star Trek. I think Shatner has finally gotten some idea why people love Trek, but it took him until the last few years to get some idea. He spoke at the Vegas Convention about understanding Trek in terms of Joseph Campbell’s ideas about mythology, and said this helped him finally realized why Star Trek touched so many people.
I am amazed that it took him so long to get that far. But I am not surprised that the show does not emphasize Trek at all.

14. Shatner_Fan_Prime - February 17, 2012

Not only am I going, I’m paying $300 for the meet & greet at the Houston show! “Sounds like fun.” :)

15. Tom - February 17, 2012

10 Baroner

I love the passion for getting Bill in the new movie. I just don’t see the same coming from Bob JJ and co anymore. What can be done about that?

16. NCM - February 17, 2012

I’d have been surprised to learn that he gave Trek, or any former co-star, much mention on any occasion, let alone at his one-man Shatshow. I’ve always thought Shatner vacillated between snubbing Trek and trying to rile fans (he’d at other times disparage) to campaign for his reinstatement in any Trek endeavor. He seems more conflicted than any half-Vulcan. One moment, his actions betray a very fragile ego; the next… his ego swells. It can’t be easy being Shatner, but he seems to know who and what he is and I find him genuinely interesting only in those moments when he’s poking fun at his own neurosis.

Hope any of you seeing him live, or buying the expected DVD, do enjoy the show.

17. Jeff - February 17, 2012

Where are the tour dates ?

18. AJ - February 17, 2012

The local newspapers here in the NY/NJ area have given the show generally decent reviews, i.e. 3/4 stars, and essentially echo Mr. Hoffman’s take up top. Shatner has also had interviews with the Times (again) and the Daily News, so everyone knows he’s here, for sure.

No word yet on whether he’s selling lots of tickets. The season on Broadway usually gets cracking around St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s a win-win for the Music Box during the seasonal lull.

19. AJ - February 17, 2012

TOUR DATES

http://shatnersworld.com/tour.html

20. Starbase Britain - February 17, 2012

Mr Shatner, Please come to the United Kingdom of Great Britain with your wonderful show.
cheers
Greg

21. sisko - February 17, 2012

I am dying to see this when it comes to LA. Now if only I can convince the wife to get tickets before they sell out…

22. Jon - February 17, 2012

Got my tickets for the San Francisco show a couple of weeks back. Can’t wait!!

23. Edgar Governo - February 17, 2012

I saw the Canadian version of this show when Shatner appeared in Winnipeg. It was in more of an “interview” format, with someone else moderating, but from this review, the anecdotes sound the same.

As the review says, don’t go in expecting a lot of Trek-related stories or gossip. (Besides, as a fan, you’ll have heard/read them all before anyway.) Sadly, you also shouldn’t go if you’re mainly a Boston Legal fan, as he had next to nothing to say about Denny Crane.

If you’re interested in Shatner as a person, though–what shaped him, how he grew up, how things like his relationship with his father and his Jewish background made him the person he is today–and his outlook on life in the wake of family tragedies and the twists and turns of his career, then you can get a lot out of his presenting those aspects of himself to you.

24. Thomas - February 17, 2012

When you’ve done as much as Shatner has done, I can understand why he wouldn’t want to focus too much on Trek. Having starred in multiple series besides Trek and reaching the status of a pop-culture icon, it leaves a lot of area to cover. Trek may be a huge reason why he’s well-remembered today, but I think an argument could be made that Shatner has become bigger than Trek, at least for the time being.

25. chrisfawkes.com - February 17, 2012

The guy is gold.

Not everyone i know likes Star Trek but pretty much everyone loves William Shatner.

26. David Jones - February 18, 2012

I’m going to the Pantages shw, I’ll let you guys in on any inside info.

27. VulcanFilmCritic - February 18, 2012

This should be interesting…

I’m one of those people who is not in the thrall of William Shatner. I loved The Captain when Star Trek first premiered in 1966, but I quickly got tired of (what was for the time) his excessive talking. Sure he was the hero and great at action sequences, but the writers just didn’t give him much depth after the first season. It was only in the movies that Kirk got the kind of treatment he deserved.

As a person, I find Shatner to be a bizarre eogomaniac, but strangely amusing. His “singing” is atrocious, really. Nimoy’s “singing” is what one does in the shower, but Shatner’s “vocalizations” are to me gut bustingly funny. His ghost-written books, however, are often worth reading because of their unvarnished quality. Shatner has a way of ripping through the bull feathers that often surrounds much of Star Trek lore.

So it is with more than a touch of ambivalence that I bought a ticket. Half of me wanted to be amused and the other half of me wanted to see him bomb, live on stage.

28. chrisfawkes.com - February 18, 2012

You find him a bizarre egomaniac, you know him personally do you?

29. DeShonn Steinblatt - February 18, 2012

He has to lose weight. He’s almost 81.

30. Keachick - rose pinenut - February 18, 2012

#29 Maybe. So long as he doesn’t suddenly start losing weight fast. If that happens, then there is something very wrong going on with him. The older a person gets, that also becomes more of a possibility.

31. VulcanFilmCritic - February 18, 2012

@28 chrisfawkes.com I’ve seen this guy at Star Trek conventions since 1975, and what I have seen hasn’t always been pretty. I’ve spoken with him and seen enough to come to the same conclusion as James Doohan:
“I just don’t like the man.”

Last year I had dinner around this time with a group of die-hard Star Trek fans, some of whom had worked as volunteers for Creation Entertainment and not one would raise a toast to Shatner on his 80th birthday. They hated him that much.

When I suggested that we raise a toast to Leonard Nimoy, they all went goo-goo eyed and cooed, “Oh, he’s so nice” or words to that effect, all around the table. Everyone had a “nice” story to tell about Mr. Nimoy.
Now, I first got to talk to him face-to-face in 1973, and I would concur that he has always been unfailingly polite (unless he was, you know, drunk or something) but I wouldn’t call him nice. I’d just call him polite.
Which is more than I can say for Mr. Shatner.

32. Edwin - February 18, 2012

I am going next Saturday! Can’t w8! Should be a lotta fun.

33. Sebastian S. - February 18, 2012

“The Captains” doc was more than enough for me, thanks.

I’ve seen Shatner on stage live at conventions several times, and frankly, I just couldn’t imagine paying Broadway prices to sit through that again…

34. Jack - February 19, 2012

V.Film Critic, Gary Seven and NCM:

All pretty fair, thoughtful takes on Shatner. I agree that he’s been all over the map in his relationship to Trek and to fans — the word evolved doesn’t fit because his real views still seem hard to pin down, even now. I wonder if it would be odd, to have been, even briefly and mostly on the periphery, in that 50s and 60s hollywood star system and then have fans not praising your looks or acting but, instead, have them acting, years later, as if that character you played for 2 or 3 years is real and you know everything about him (not just,” hey, I loved you on that space show!” but “Captain Kirk!” hero worship from most, along with “Captain Kirk!” ridicule from critics etc.) especially if you’re still having trouble getting steady work.

35. VulcanFilmCritic - February 19, 2012

@34 You’re right, Jack. Given the terrible toll Fame must take on the psyche, I would say that the Star Trek Alums have done relatively well. Princess Diana once said that her life after Charles was like going to her own wedding…every day. And I guess if the paparazzi don’t like you it must be like going to your own tarring and feathering every day.

Given the propensity of “Stars” (not actors, per se but “Stars”) to off themselves with prescription drugs (Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, et al) and the adulation/white-hot fame/type casting that followed the ST crew, suicide was remarkably uncommon among them. A little substance abuse here and there, a failed marriage or two, hardly the stuff of the tabloids.

I guess I should give them credit for keeping their heads together, but I would just hope that, like Mr. NImoy, who found some kind of acceptance of it all, Mr. Shatner can someday find peace with his fans and fame, ’cause HE’S STILL MEAN!

36. Iowagirl - February 19, 2012

#14
Good for you, buddy! :)

37. Barb - February 19, 2012

Shatner has always expressed embarrassment about Trek, so his treatment of it should be a surprise to no one. Trek Fans love for him has never really be returned.

38. murt - February 19, 2012

@37 – yes I agree. And Star Trek did mark, coincidentally or not, a turning point in Shat’s career. He was respected as a serious actor prior to Trek, and then immediately afterward became the subject of constant ridicule.

That must have been hard to take – remember, for a long time post-Star Trek, he was known as ‘the worst actor ever’ or something to that effect. Plus, at the same time, his looks faded which probably compounded everything.

He must blame Star Trek for some of that. I probably would if I were him. Does that give him an excuse to take out his feelings on fans, especially when he’s making the choice to do conventions? Of course not.

39. Keachick - rose pinenut - February 19, 2012

Is that true? Did people refer to him as “the worst actor ever” because of what he did on Star Trek? I thought he played Kirk wonderfully on TOS, which is why Kirk has always been one of my favourite television characters.

I read somewhere recently someone commenting on how many people see William Shatner overacting when he played Kirk and this person disagreeing, saying that it is not a matter of William Shatner overacting, but most other actors underacting. I tend to agree, especially if you look at how many characters are played now – actors mumbling in a monotone and not showing much emotion at all, even when I would think the situation would demand a greater emotional reaction.

That is, perhaps, why I like Chris Pine, because he is often very expressive vocally, not unlike Shatner – you know – acting/being, not underacting. Probably a good reason why Chris won the part of Captain Kirk, among others, as opposed to other actors auditioning for the part.

40. Robert Bernardo - February 19, 2012

Nice! I’ll see him at the San Francisco show.

41. Harry Ballz - February 19, 2012

39.

Keachick, I basically agree with you. Shatner’s acting style in TOS seemed appropriate for the setting of the stories.

Hey, when you’re throwing around paper mache boulders, wrestling lizards with zippers up their backs and dealing with aliens who are half black and half-white, you’d better be “larger than life”!

I really think that if TOS had cast an average actor as Captain (instead of Shatner), we wouldn’t be so enamored with the show all these many years later.

42. Jinn-Jinn - February 19, 2012

I am too new to Star Trek to form an opinion on William Shatner. The first time I got introduced to his acting was in the show Third Rock From the Sun. I perceive him as a good comedian and very good at keeping a straight face. :)

Reading all these comments just makes me want to study the man more. Its not that I don’t believe someone’s opinion more than another, but as a teacher of mine once said, the truth is always somewhere in the middle.

43. Shannon Nutt - February 20, 2012

So this is basically no different than the thousands of convention appearances Bill has given over the years. He comes out, he tells an hour or so of stories from his career, and he says goodnight. The only difference being at cons, fans actually got to ask some questions.

44. murt - February 20, 2012

@Keachick – yes unfortunately it’s true – he was lampooned big time for his weight and hair as well. I loved him in TOS though!

45. ST-One - February 21, 2012

This sounds a lot like what Carrie Fisher does in her “Wishful Drinking” show…

46. Jack - February 21, 2012

I’m trying to remember where I read Shatner saying that at least one early TOS critic (after the pilot or first one or two episodes, maybe?) called his acting wooden. It quickly became a lot more animated (I’M Captain Kirk!!!).

In the beginning (the pilots and first couple of episodes), both Kirk and Pike seemed to be written (and directed) as pretty sober, pensive, overthinking, self-lacerating characters who really felt the weight of command. That side of Kirk was, I think, resurrected in the movies (but coexisted next to the sense of humour and bravado).

47. Jack - February 21, 2012

PS. I’m really hoping that any version of this speech, or anything like it, isn’t in the next Star Trek movie (although, it did convince me as a kid that I could bring anybody to my side by giving an equally theatrical speech — my folks didn’t buy the “risk is our business!” line when I was trying to get them to buy me an Atari):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cOlJdObNlc&feature=related

48. VulcanFilmCritic - February 21, 2012

@47 I actually like this speech. It’s what Kirk is all about. I can’t imagine Chris Pine getting all worked up like this over anything in the new franchise.
Nu-Kirk is a little too Joe Cool for me.

49. Keachick - rose pinenut - February 21, 2012

So do I love that speech. It is that kind of passion and belief in who he is, what he is doing as a captain of an explorer starship and what Starfleet is about which is what must have been inspiration to many kids watching at the time who later became scientists, etc. Everything has become ho-hum, blase and cynical, “yeah, yeah, whatever”.

I would love it if there could be a similar speech given by nu-Kirk in the next movie. What was shown in the Casting segment of the second DVD, it appeared that Chris Pine was able to do that kind of speaking, but JJ Abrams decided that perhaps it was a little over-the-top for the scenes they were doing. However, this is a different story, different scenes…

50. Mike Jones - February 22, 2012

Great review! I think it’s very accurate– especially when you relate seeing the show to having dinner with a friend who’s entertaining you with stories. That’s exactly how I felt seeing the show.

I wish there was a bit of a smoother flow.. but the lack of flow didn’t ruin my night.

I also wrote a review on my blog. Check it out at http://themikejones.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/i-saw-william-shatner-on-broadway/

51. dep1701 - February 22, 2012

@39 and 41: I agree with you.

I never had a problem with Shatner’s acting in TOS , with the exception of some occasional scenes in episodes like “And The Children Shall Lead” (ick), and the briefing room scene in “The Lights Of Zetar” in which his explosive delivery seems a bit heavy handed for the content. Of course, these were third season eps, with fewer retakes allowed – money, money, money – so the actors had less of a chance to refine their performances.

I believe the problem for Shatner was that the show hung around for so long, and was seen by so many people out of the context of the time when it was filmed, that his style seemed out of step with what was currently in vogue. If you watch a lot of the television shows of the ’60s, Shatner’s style doesn’t seem all that far removed from leads of many other adventure shows of the period. A lot of these people got their training on the stage, where you have to act ‘big’ in order to get your point across to the people in the back row. It wasn’t until the ’70s when the more understated style began to dominate, that often Shatner seemed out of sync with the other performers ( they were ‘acting’… he was ‘ACTING!’ ).

I think that what happened was that as acting styles changed, his did not evolve to keep pace with the times. He needs a strong director to keep him in check, like Nick Meyer in Trek’s 2 and 6. His performances in those films are generally pitch-perfect. Compare that to Trek 5 when the only person there to rein him in was himself.

52. Edwin - February 26, 2012

Well, here it is finally, my account of Shatner’s World (with my wife, Bozena’s help!)!

We left just after 9am and had a leisurely drive from Connecticut to Manhattan. Leisurely, that is, until we reached Manhattan! Then it was the usual New York chaos that we have come to know and “love”! Of course, the road that we needed to drive down to get to the parking lot was closed for whatever reason and then we had to navigate our way around to finally get there. We then headed over to “Earl of Sandwich” in the wind and bitter cold to have lunch with friend and fellow Shatner & Friends International (SFI) member, Dayna. Dayna had trekked in by train from New Rochelle, NY and we hugged and greeted one another, expressing our excitement at making it this far to experience “Bill on Broadway”!
Following lunch, we made it over to the theatre and resisted the urge to wait at the stage door prior (mainly due to the extreme cold!), to greet Mr. Shatner on his way in. Instead, we got a few shots of the theatre from outside and then went in to warm up. By around 1.30pm they let us in and I headed straight to get some “Shatner’s World” merchandise! Well, I was first in line and when I got there I couldn’t help myself – I purchased a T-shirt, mug and fridge magnet! I had originally only planned on the T-shirt but then couldn’t help myself when I saw all the other goodies!
We then made our way to our seats – front row!!! To say our seats were awesome is an understatement. If we had been any closer I would have been on stage with Bill himself!! We took some photos in the theatre and then, after we had managed to get a few, someone at the theatre yelled at us and we put our cameras away (we didn’t want to get kicked out!). We also saw Theresa and Wayne from SFI but unfortunately did not get to talk as the show was about to start.
Soon, the stage went dark and a very familiar voice (Bill!) gave the announcement about no cell phones, recording devices etc…. unless you wanted to record him and then to meet with him afterwards to talk deals! LOL! Good ole Bill – never a chance to miss a negotiation!
The great man came on stage to thunderous applause. He looked good – dressed in a smart blue jacket and vest over a white shirt and jeans. He talked about so many things and I will try and remember as much as I can – not necessarily in chronological order! He spoke a great deal about his father and his influences on his life; about studying at McGill and, although he got his degree in commerce, he was more interested in acting. He recounted going to the burlesque with high school buddies in Montreal and crushing on a dancer, but more importantly being enamored by the burlesque comedy actors. He retold several jokes he remembered from that time and his comic timing was superb. I think he credits his mother for that. She always fancied herself a comedienne! What’s the difference between Jewish moms and Rottweiler’s? Rottweiler’s eventually let go! Why do Jewish women love Chinese food? Because Wonton spelled backwards is ‘not now’!
He talked about how as a child, he had moved an audience to tears with his performance as a young Jewish child saying good bye to his dog as he was sent off to a concentration camp. On another occasion, he told his mother that, in one play, he had been cast as a Jewish husband and his mother told him to “go back and ask for a speaking part instead!”
He spoke of his theatrical years, being understudy to Christopher Plummer in Henry V and how he forgot his lines in one performance and had to improvise! He recounted his role in Tamburlaine and how in one scene, the lead actor – Anthony Quayle – had to tear up a piece of paper in anger at the end of a scene. On the last performance, ‘someone’ replaced the paper with parchment – which does not tear. Anthony Quayle was trying to rip up the parchment with increasing anger and frustration! The audience and cast were finding it really funny! Afterwards, Quayle came through backstage screaming “Shatner! Was that YOU?” He also spoke about his previous Broadway experience in “The World of Suzy Wong” and how, although the show was bad and should have died, it lasted a lot longer than he thought it would, mainly due to his improvisation of turning the would-be drama into a comedy!
He mentioned his early years in live television working with Lon Chaney amongst others. And also filming “Alexander the Great” – a part he relished, being an admirer of the historical figure and Alexander’s great horse. The part allowed him lots of bareback riding and made him fall in love with horses all over again. He compared his horse Great Day to Alexander’s.
He also made several jokes throughout the performance and got a laugh out of the audience each time. Some of the jokes were old, but expertly delivered and delighted the audience in a “Hey! Shatner can do comedy?!” kind of way. It was wonderful to see.
He spoke about his family, his mother, father, daughters and his late wife Nerine. He spoke about facing death and detailed the events in Star Trek: Generations when filming Kirk’s death scene. He spoke about Nerine and then about finding his wife Elizabeth and how they had been married for 12 years and were very much in love. He added, poignantly, how death is not the end, when there is love.
He spoke about risk. He played the clip from Star Trek (Return to Tomorrow, I think?) where Kirk delivers the “Risk is our business” speech, and went on to say that he says yes to most things because “yes” is an opportunity and you never know where it will lead. This led into him detailing the events of making “The Transformed Man” an apparently failed and misunderstood music album of spoken word (which I personally love!). Through this album, he got the Priceline gig and then it snowballed into a new album called “Has Been” which received critical acclaim and was followed sometime after with the more recent “Seeking Major Tom” where he got to work with many modern music stars including Sheryl Crow! Again, one small album he said “yes” to in the 1960’s led to so much more, all those years later.
Obviously Star Trek was mentioned throughout, and Bill related a story (which is highlighted on “The Captains” DVD) where, during his interview with Sir Patrick Stewart, Patrick says “If I die tomorrow, I will largely be remembered as Captain Picard, and I am fine with that” and Bill remarked that in that moment, he realized he would be remembered as Captain Kirk and y’know what? He said he was fine with that too! He also recounted – and played, for the delight of the audience – the final wake up call for the space shuttle Discovery which he had recorded for its final mission last year. He mentioned NASA a lot – about how in the 1960’s he had gone to tour the Apollo lander and while he was in the cockpit, the engineers had rigged up a model of the Starship Enterprise to fly by the window!
Bill, of course, talked about his horses. Especially Great Days (I believe that was the horse’s name). How it was a breeding horse – and he told some dirty jokes here, which I won’t repeat on these message boards – you will have to go and see the show if you want to know! He recounted the sad tale of how this horse first had chains on its front legs to prevent it from hurting itself, then its rear legs at a later date, and finally a bar across its mouth to prevent it from inflicting wounds to itself. When Bill saw the horse he was saying “My God, what have I done to this beautiful horse..?” He had not done these things personally and it is a standard thing that happens in the horse world, to prevent champion horses from injuring their legs etc. However, it was a very emotional part of the show and he was telling us that, when the horse was dying he took it out into the fields on his property to let it run free and have some final moments. He also spoke of his love for his Dobermans and the joy that his animals bring to him.
He mentioned the Comedy Central Roast, and how he had made a grand entrance on a horse! This, of course, brings up the line: “F*** you and the horse you rode in on!” and he said “Guess who delivered that line?” Yep! George Takei. They froze the screen on George and he did look particularly venomous! Wow! Thankfully, this was the only mention of George Takei and the show moved on to more positive notes.
Bill regaled us with the story of Koko the Gorilla which I am sure you have all heard – but it is still funny. He recounted a skiing trip with his daughters and then chasing a rat around the kitchen of the camper with a ski pole! He chased it out of the van and was covered in snow as the rodent got away. I had never heard this story before and my writing about it does not do justice to his retelling. Trust me – he was much funnier!
He recounted stories about Denny Crane and his time on Boston Legal. Especially the creation of the iconic balcony scenes with James Spader brought about by the recognition of the great chemistry the two had.
After the show, we headed to the stage door, and soon thereafter Bill appeared, with Elizabeth, heading for their limo. He did not sign anything, but he did stop to thank us all for coming. He seemed to be in a very good mood and full of life. He had been very energetic on stage as well! As he headed off into NY, we returned home with smiles emblazoned on our faces.
But before I sign off, I just want to hark back to the final scene of the show. Bill gave us a live performance of “Real” from the album “Has Been”. And the lyrics end:

“Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m real….”

Well, Bill, we are glad you are real! And you did not disappoint us! Quite the opposite in fact!

When I look back to yesterday, there is one phrase that sums it all up and will be with me forever:

SHATNER ON BROADWAY!!!!!

How cool is that?

53. RIC - April 16, 2012

BILL SHATNER USE TO WORK FOR ME AT MY TREK-O-RAMAS DOING APPEARANCES. PEOPLE OFTEN WOULD ASK ME ..”ISNT HE AN A–HOLE.. MY STANDARD ANSWER WAS ALWAYS NO..BILL IS A PRINCE. GREAT TO TALK TO ..DO BUSINESS WITH AND WHEN HE WANTED THE LONG DRIVE BETWEEN CITIES WERE VERY ENTERTAINING. I HOPE SOMEDAY TO WORK WITH HIM AGAIN. A GREAT GUY.

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