There are probably many reasons that the Mesa Arts Center was not sold out on January 20, 2013: young people preferring the hipper Voyager to the corny original Star Trek; older fans afraid seeing an 81-year old actor would ruin their memories of the dashing Captain Kirk; and the Ravens upsetting the New England in the NFL playoffs. But the audience of boomers, who did come to see Shatner’s World…We Just Live In It were not disappointed. William Shatner provided an entertaining one-man show.
The fun started when it was Shatner’s voice, which directed the audience to take its seats, and not take photographs (“flash bulbs will blind me and cause me to fall off the stage”). The applause started when the theme of Star Trek theme began to play and the stars of the galaxy appeared on the center-stage screen. Just as Captain Kirk commanded the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, Shatner was a domineering presence, utilizing the whole stage for his monologue.
The show was autobiographical, detailing how the Canadian boy, who used to cut class to go see burlesque shows, grew up to be one of the most recognizable personalities in the world. Story after story of lucky breaks (e.g., as an understudy filling in when the lead actor got sick); unexpected successes (e.g., the poorly-reviewed drama The Secret Life of Suzy Wong turned into a two-year hit comedy); and tales of risk-taking (i.e., always saying he could do something whether he could or not) quickly filled two hours.
Most of the show was very funny and self-effacing. But it was punctuated by a few sad moments, as when Shatner talked about his wife Nerine’s death or when he had to euthanize his favorite horse. One mystery was solved. Years ago, there was consternation years ago when he seemed to try to flee his image as James Kirk, while now he seems to enjoy it. Shatner was touched by an interview with renowned Shakespearean actor, Patrick Stewart, who said, despite his great roles like Macbeth, he had no problem being remembered as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Shatner said that convinced him to embrace his own legacy.
The audience gave Shatner a standing ovation, left the auditorium beaming, and lined up to get autographs. For a person who believes “You learn the most from a journey without a destination,” Shatner ‘s lifelong flight has had a happy landing.