A few weeks ago I took an amusing trip in to Shatner’s World. Yes, the Shatner, William Shatner, the entertainment icon and legend was performing his one man show at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville.
Shatner’s World is an hour and a half retelling of his life and career from theatre to TV to movies. It was great to see him in person talk candidly about his life including the highs, the lows and a lot of humour in between. I say it was a one man show, but he does share the stage with an office chair which he uses as a prop throughout the show to sit, dance and catch your attention. Sounds strange but it really worked!
Although the show opens with the theme song of original Star Trek TV series (1966-1969 – amazingly when you look back today, the show was cancelled due to poor ratings!) which made him famous with his iconic character Captain James T. Kirk, he actually doesn’t say a great deal about the show or the movies that were to follow (don’t worry he certainly does refer to it during the show).
William “Bill” Shatner (born March 22nd, 1931 in Canada) basically retold the story of his life from his childhood, to becoming the worst student McGill University in Montreal has ever had and then discovering he could act. He managed to just pass as a business major in 1952 but found it amusing years later they gave him an honorary doctorate! He went on to the theatre but not as an actor. At first he kept getting jobs as a theatre manager, which he wasn’t very good at doing and would lose all the money and tickets for each show! Eventually though they realised he was much better at acting and he started to get acting jobs in theatre at first in Canada (Shakespeare) and then on Broadway.
TV roles came his way and movies soon followed. He retold some amusing moments in live TV with famous actor Lon Chaney Jr. where Lon was busy practicing his scenes before hand uttering things like “I smash the chair over Bill” then saying his lines to get into the feel of the scene. When it was time to go live, Bill said he thought it was going to be an award-winning screening until Lon started saying out loud not only his lines but also “I smash the chair over Bill”…whoops! From there his chat with the audience lead to the Star Trek TV series and movies (6 original series movies between 1979-1991), the popular T.J. Hooker TV series (1982-1986 Sargeant T.J. Hooker), the Boston Legal TV series (2004-2008 the hilarious Denny Crane), his advertising career as the Priceline Negotiator and a lot more!
His role as Alexander the Great in a 1968 TV movie started his love of horses which he discussed in detail. He became quite emotional talking about his family, dogs and horses including discussing the loss of his parents and first wife. Then finding love again with his second wife. It was a touching moment in the show. He then moved on to an amusing tale about a rat in an R.V. in Mammoth during a ski trip with is then 3 young daughters. It didn’t end well and the ski trip was over pretty quickly!
Throughout the evening videos interspersed Bills story telling. One hilarious moment involved Star Trek co-star George Takei at a roast for Shatner and also when he was asked to do an introduction at a special dinner held for George Lucas (Star Trek vs. Star Wars, the look of shock on all the Star Wars people when he came out was priceless as it all seemed so serious when Shatner was discussing Star Trek – they soon found out it was all a big joke)!
Bill even discussed his music career including collaborating with Ben Folds and Henry Rollins. His first spoken word album The Transformed Man came out in 1968 (an album that has copped some ridicule over the years for his versions of songs like Elton Johns Rocket Man). In 2004 with Ben Folds he bought out a much better received album called Has Been which included the song I Can’t Get Behind That with Henry Rollins and Common People. His third and most recent album is Seeking Major Tom (2011) which included a cover of the Queen hit Bohemian Rhapsody. Not everyone’s cup of tea but I find them entertaining!
He also told an amusing story when he was at NASA doing some narration work from memory, and had an opportunity to get in a rocket command. While he was sitting in there he was taking it all in and looked of the window. What did he see? A model of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 flew past the window! He stepped outside to see hundreds of NASA Engineers looking up at him laughing. A great joke!
The show was finished with Bill singing a song about his life. It was fun, entertaining and amusing. A great evening was had by all in Shatner’s World.