This Galaxy Knows No Bounds
William Shatner: Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It
Star: William Shatner
(forever known as Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise)
Yardley Hall, Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas
Saturday, October 29, 2017
Fans arriving Saturday evening on a cold, crisp Midwest autumn evening, were hopefully expecting at least one spaceship to be hovering over this college campus. Alas, not to be, but fans---some in appropriate attire clutching objects to be autographed---gave up looking skyward and looked at the stage, instead. There was Captain Kirk---jeans, sports jacket, knit shirt and a rolling office chair for a prop. The only high techs were in the large screen above his close-shaven head that showed film clips of the various topics he spoke on. This two-hour show went non-stop. A test of endurance for an 86-year-old man, but the audience could have had hours more. It was a sold-out house.
William Shatner is of Canadian/German descent and became interested in acting as a child. He is a comic at heart, ad libs quickly, doesn't let a moment pass by without a quip, and a memory like a computer. If he pauses in his monologue, whatever would have come next is either that or something else that comes to mind. With over 70 years of show business behind him, the past is like an encyclopedia.
Topics covered included a camping trip with his three young daughters (a rat came into the tent), and encounters with fans who either thought he was too short or “didn't look the same as on television.” Past television series have been the three-year “Star Trek” original series, plus seven “Star Trek” movies, one of which he directed. “T.J. Hooker” about the police department, “Boston Legal” with James Spader (now of “The Blacklist”) and the reality-based “Rescue 911.” There has also been “Shatner’s Raw Nerve” interview program and one episode was shown with Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) who said he finally gave up and realized that being known as “Captain Picard” for the rest of his life wasn't so bad after all. Shatner agreed, because, he will always be known as “Captain Kirk.”
Shatner did not recite poetry (he writes it) but “sang” two numbers from his albums, which are really spoken words against a rhythmic background. The sound system was good and you could catch every word. There were no comments about Leonard Nimoy (“Mr. Spock”) who also wrote poetry. Instead, there were jabs against “Sulu” (George Takai) with whom there appears to be an on-going feud. This is show biz.
One of Shatner’s hobbies is breeding quarter horses. Kansas City is the home of the American Royal, one of the famous horse shows in the country. Shatner told this story: he bought a beautiful stallion for breeding purposes and the horse spent most of his life in a stall as a sperm donor. His offspring were champions. Years later, when the horse was older, he was allowed to be in a pasture once on Shatner’s ranch and then was put down. In the horse-loving Midwest, this story did not do well. As the person sitting next to me said, “That was a hollow moment.”
As far as a speaking voice, and this is what attracts the listener, Shatner still has it. He explained his sometimes rushed and breathy delivery as coming from radio when you had to do so much in such little time. Someone in my section had seen him in the black and white, early 1970’s television drama, “Andersonville,” about the Civil War prison. Shatner played a prosecuting attorney and “really played to the camera.” In his early Canadian acting days, Shatner once was an understudy for Christopher Plummer for "King Lear" and had to go on without notice. Nothing went right, but he managed to go through the performance and even got a good review.
He played to the audience this night and this is his second tour with his show. From Kansas City he headed to Des Moines and then further northeast into Illinois and beyond. I finally had a chance to see “Captain Kirk” who took command of the stage the same way he did on the deck of the Enterprise. Now this fictional ship was so popular that a naval vessel is named for it. What an honor for the creator of “Star Trek,” (the late Gene Roddenberry) and those who acted the roles he created.
So, “Star Trek” fans, Kirk is on the move and check your local auditoriums because he just may pop up there. Not like Stephen Stills and Judy Collins, who traveled with a trailer full of sound equipment and instruments, there was only one man, an office chair, a large screen and a lifetime of memories.
Footnote: of the original cast members from "Star Trek" that ran on television from 1966-69, William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Walter Koenig ( Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Uhuru) and George Takai (Sulu) are still alive. Those who have died are Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy/Bones), and James Doohan (Scottie.)
Copyright 2017 Marie Asner