Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shatner's World: We Just Live in It

William Shatner reflects on life.
In a departure from its usual high-brow showcases of classical music, opera and plays, this past Sunday the New Jersey Performing Arts Center hosted Canadian actor William Shatner in a one-man show befitting his infamous humility titled, Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It

As admitted long-time Star Trek fans, my husband, Stephen, and I couldn’t resist attending this gathering of gray-haired geekdom. (I also must confess to a sneaking admiration for Shatner’s more recent character, Denny Crane, from Boston Legal.)

When I was a teenager, in the late 1960s, my friends and I were glued to the television every Wednesday night when the original Star Trek television show was aired. We thrilled to watching Captain James T. Kirk, his first officer, Mr. Spock, and their trusty crew careening through the galaxy, sparring or smooching with aliens and attempting but usually failing to follow the prime directive of noninterference with indigenous cultures. This often resulted in the ship’s doctor, Bones, announcing, “He’s dead, Jim.” as red-shirted ship’s crew collapsed around them. And who could resist that well-oiled chest peeking out of Kirk's oft-ripped Federation uniform.

But this performance was not an homage to Star Trek as much as a celebration of its famed over-acting star, William Shatner. At a spry 81 years old, he was remarkably witty, philosophical and engrossing to watch as he strode across the stage talking, and occasionally screaming, for emphasis.

Shatner backed by his projected crew.
Shatner began with a chronological sharing of his life and career, which was funny, touching and thought-provoking. We learned such cocktail party trivia as the last words of Steve Jobs, which were “Wow, wow, wow.” but with no certainty as to if his dying statement was an expression of wonderment or trepidation. We reviewed his career from stage to television to screen and heard many amusing anecdotes related to each. We shared his love of horses, which brought him and his latest wife (number four, I think) together. They’ve been married for 13 years, so it would seem he has finally found some peace in his personal life.

At the end of the performance, he offers a projected collage of scenes from throughout his long life and makes the point—obviously important to him—that no one should ever expect him to save the world or look upon him as an authority figure. “I’m only an entertainer,” he reminds his audience. Indeed, that’s true. And as his fan-base slowly filed out of the auditorium there was a satisfied consensus that he was correct. William Shatner is an entertainer—and a very accomplished one at that.

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