You might know William Shatner as Captain Kirk from “Star Trek: The Original Series”, or Denny Crane from “Boston Legal”, either way the man is a legend in the business. At age 83, he is still going strong and has tackled everything from acting to theatre to being an author. In 2012, he returned to the stage on Broadway with his one-man show, “Shatner’s World”. Since then he took the show on tour and now it will be playing in movie theaters for a special engagement on April 24th through Fanthom Events. Media Mikes had the special privilege to chat with Mr. Shatner about the show and his outstanding career.
Mike Gencarelli: You took “Shatner’s World” from Broadway, then touring and now to cinemas; what has been the highlight for you this journey?
William Shatner: The highlight is at the end of the evening…I think I am safe in saying that at every performance that I have done, the audience had stood up and applauded at the end. The emotion that comes over the footlights between me and the audience has moved me to tears many times. The audiences affection at the end of the evening is palpable and that is truly the highlight for me, Mike. And for the price of a movie ticket, you can see a Broadway play in theaters. This is a live capture of the Broadway play and it will be released in 700 theaters and you can see it for the price of only a movie ticket. So you can’t beat that.
MG: “Shatner’s World” calls back to your roots starting off in theatre; how was it returning back to that setting?
WS: I have been asked for years, since the last time I was on Broadway, to come back and do a play and in some cases a musical. But they needed to get at least a six month commitment and I didn’t have that time available. So I thought “I guess that’s it for me and Broadway”. But within months of saying that came an opportunity to go back to Broadway with this show and I even was able to go to the the exact theater where I was for my last Broadway play. So the irony of that, or the beautiful or symmetry of that is not lost on me.
MG: What was the the name of that last Broadway show?
WS: It was “A Shot in the Dark” with Julie Harris…many years ago.
MG: In “Shatner’s World”, you mentioned several struggles on your career early on; what would you say is your defining moment?
WS: I have the kind of career that was a slow build. Every time something sensational was going to happen it didn’t work out that way it was suppose to. There was this slow wave of attention and activity that I think actually climaxes in this one-man show. To go on stage alone for an hour and a half to two hours and hold an audience and get the kind of reaction I’ve been am getting, that is the cumulation of years of experience and attention. It didn’t happen suddenly, there was no defining moment. Instead, there was a series of small wavelets as apposed to a tsunami.
MG: Having such a full career, what were some of the hard decisions you had to make to cut out in order to get this show down to an hour and a half?
WS: There were many parts that didn’t make it, especially getting the show ready for Broadway. I had to sharpen and refine and reduce it to it’s supreme moments, if you will, where it epitomizes everything that I wanted to say. Not only stories but also extraneous words, so it is a difficult process. The core of this show was to say “Yes” to life. To give this idea, this concept, that life is precious and needs to be embraced with both ears and smothered by you because it is over so quickly. So the stories that went along with that core were the stories that I kept.
MG: I loved the energy that you brought to the stage; how do you channel all that energy running around on stage and still while being funny and charming?
WS: It is part of the entertainer’s magic, I guess, but that is my energy and it comes from my core. That is what I bring to you on stage, you being the audience. I feel that there is a magical link between me and the audience. I feel it and you feel it. I am there for you. We are having a love affair, the performer and the audience. I actually feel the embrace and perform to that and that is energizing to me.
MG: I have to honestly say that from just watching the show, I felt pumped and I didn’t even see it in person, so congrats on that as well for being very effective.
WS: I am so glad to hear you say that, thank you. That is a lovely compliment and I appreciate you saying it.
MG: You bet!, what would you say is biggest challenge doing a one-man show?
WS: There is a number of challenges. You are talking continuously for two hours and trying to remember the words. It is not unlike musicians doing a set and having the set numbers in front of them. They have clues as to what is next. So that is what I had but it still had to remember those words. So now that I haven’t done this in many months I am going to be in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand on June 19th, 20th, 21st doing the one-man show, which is what a thrill let me say, so I am going to have to re-learn the lines now. So that is a challenge but not only that but I am going to have to teach the show to an individual on how to work that software for the electronics and the media. So that is going to be a challenge in Las Vegas. Then I am going on a tour for a few selected dates in January and have to re-do that again. So the dint of the words and the expenditure of energy that is so orgasmic [laughs] and you have to be ready for it, so those are challenges also.
MG: You mentioned your musical career in the show; do you have any plans to go down that road again?
WS: Well, I have been asked to do a cover album…and I just may do that. I love music. I can’t sing or sustain a note but what I do have is the musicality of the language. Many languages, English among them, has an intrinsic melody and rhythm that needs to be sought out, if you will. It is one thing to speak like we do but another to find the heart of the language and I love that. So my ability to be able to combine that musicality of the words with a melody line that comes in behind it, it became a signature thing. I just love doing it and I am anxious to do it again, so whether it is an album or live. I did perform my newest album, which is called “Ponder the Mystery”. I did it three times with Billy Sherwood’s group in the Los Angeles area last year and it got a great response and I would love to repeat that.
MG: From being an actor, author, spokesperson etc; what is left on your bucket list that you want to do?
WS: Oh my goodness. I haven’t done anything in life. I feel unaccomplished and I feel like I have done nothing [laugh]. Being a performer, once the performance is over…it is gone. It is in the ether. It may have just as well not happened. The next night is the next challenge. It is a challenge of many kinds. It is a challenge of redoing that performance that only you can remember. The challenge is also that if there will be an audience for that performance. I am feeling that way right now. Doing all this publicity is an attempt to fill that gap that I hope that 700 theaters will be filled up with people coming to see the show on April 24th. There is so much to do and so little time left to do it.