by Charlynn Schmiedt
If you have a chance to grab tickets for one of the few dates left for Shatner’s World, let me channel the Abramsverse Kirk for a moment and say, “Do it, do it, do it!” My husband and I were lucky enough to score tickets for the March 15 show in Minneapolis, and I left the show with a renewed outlook on the man who played Star Trek’s greatest hero. For one thing, I was impressed that 80-year-old Shatner was doing a one-man show with the energy of someone half his age. But more importantly, I left the show feeling I knew more about the true persona behind that often overinflated ego.
Shatner’s World is exactly what it sounds like. It’s just him and his trusty “co-chair” doing what he does best—talking about himself—in front of a beautiful backdrop of stars, taking the audience on the journey of his life. The show’s feel is casual, as if Shatner has invited the audience to his home for a look through his scrapbook on a Sunday afternoon. As he “turns the pages,” the photos and video clips from moments in his life spark a multitude of stories that range from his early days with Christopher Plummer in the Ontario Theatre, to his newest musical release, Seeking Major Tom.
It’s not easy condensing memories of a life that’s eighty-years long and counting into a two-hour show. Nor is it any easier adding to that a career that’s stretched into nearly every form of media. Shatner tries. He dwells on some stories, such as when he lost a beloved horse, while touching too lightly on others, like his days on Rescue 911. Star Trek fans might be annoyed by how long it takes Shatner to talk about serving as captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, but he does get there. He sprinkles in several aspects of Star Trek into the rest of show, including a clip from his documentary, The Captains, where Patrick Stewart helps Shatner realize that it’s okay if he’s known for nothing else besides his work on the science fiction franchise. It’s a recent development, but Shatner finally seems at peace with his best-known role.
What’s surprising in this show is the level of Shatner’s honesty about himself and his life. He doesn’t flinch when talking about failures in his life and career. Just as important, however, he revels in the high points with enthusiasm. Shatner has no problem poking fun at himself for laughs, but doesn’t shy away from heavy topics such as death. You might be thinking, “This coming from the guy whose ego is sometimes too big even for him?” Yes. They are one and the same.
He brings this point home as he sings (in his Shatner-esque way) during the closing of the show, “I wish I knew the things you think I do/I would change this world for sure/But I eat and sleep and breathe and bleed and feel/Sorry to disappoint you/But I’m real.”
Shatner’s played heroes, gotten the girl, and saved the day countless times. But behind the characters onscreen, the actor behind them has had ups and downs. He’s made mistakes and learned from them. Most importantly, he’s had the courage to never quit. That is the William Shatner the audience gets to know in Shatner’s World. And it’s refreshing.