William Shatner still has it. The 85 year-old actor entertained fans in suburban Philadelphia for two-straight hours in the most recent return of his self-titled tour that covered his life and career. It’s “Shatner’s World”, we just live in it.
Exuberant. Enthusiastic. Entertaining. William Shatner returned to the road on October 13 for a quick five-day tour of his popular Shatner’s World and did not disappoint the 900-plus fans in attendance at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA. Amusing attendees with anecdotes from his seven-decades long career, Shatner’s one-man show was at times irreverent, poignant, humorous, but most of all, fun.
There might not be another performer who can better entertain a crowd than the Canadian actor, who has had four-decades to hone his onstage persona, as he charmed his audience for two hours without an intermission. Shatner intermixed personal stories about his family, acting and recording career as well as reflected on his life, often beginning with quiet moments before reaching a crescendo in voice and energy.
Updating his material for the current presidential election in the United States, Shatner gleefully had fun with his audience, his cheeky style coming across throughout. His quick wit was demonstrated when he almost fell over his self-described “co-chair” for the performance, which was the actual chair he sat in for portions of the show.
Thanks to a series of audio and video clips, audience members were treated to an interesting mix of moments he chose from his life and career, including Star Trek, Boston Legal and his interactions with NASA. One of the big crowd pleasers of the evening was photos of him as a young actor just starting out in the theater; he drew “oohs” and “ahhs” whenever a cheesecake picture appeared, like his role as a shirtless Alexander the Great.
Mortality crept into his discussion at one point – a topic he has mused on over the decades, perhaps taking on even more weight in the wake of last year’s loss of close friend Leonard Nimoy. Shatner never spoke directly about Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, his cherished mates from his decades-long career in the final frontier, but he did honor their relationship with an image of the three of them when he mentioned the friendships forged during his time on Star Trek.
Death and life came up again when Shatner touched on his late-wife Nerine’s passing, and how that tragedy led him to meeting his current-spouse, Elizabeth. It was a meaningful moment for Shatner, who was mostly self-deprecating (opening the show with George Takei’s famous roast dialogue about riding in on a horse), as the octogenarian mentioned the date, year, and exact time he found out about Nerine’s death before segueing into his life with Elizabeth, with whom he bonded over grief (she had recently lost her husband after battling an illness) and their mutual love of horses.
Star Trek fans made up a significant portion of the audience, identifiable by various T-shirts and pins, while the rest of the seats seemed filled by the theater’s subscribers. It was a mid-week show, but the house was filled almost to capacity, which was a nice nod to the breadth of Shatner’s career. One audience member remarked that he was not a Star Trek fan, but knew the actor always put on an entertaining show. It was that kind of night.
In a story that perfectly captured the essence of both the actor and the man, Shatner described filming a movie in the southern United States, where each evening he and his co-stars were heckled by the same local. After several nights, Shatner approached the man and offered him a job on the crew, which resulted in the cast and crew embracing the heckler, as well as he becoming a champion for them. It was a touching story that truly exemplified his charisma with people. However, in typical Shatner fashion, he then ended the story with how he set the man’s car on fire and destroyed his lucky chaps.
Star Trek convention-goers who have seen Shatner on stage over the years should make a point to catch his show when the opportunity arises, as Shatner’s World (launched in 2012, and running whenever the actor’s schedule allows) is so much more than his quick routine and Q&A from those events. Shatner received a standing ovation after wrapping up his night singing/speaking his Brad Paisley duet, Real; anyone in attendance would agree that they’d be lucky indeed to have his energy and sharp mind at 85.