TV and film legend William Shatner's new one-man show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It ...," comes to Houston and Jones Hall for a one-night stand on March 23 filled with music, laughter and, possibly, something new for fans of his long, illustrious and, yes, cheeky career.
At the ripe age of 80 years old -- he turns 81 the day before he hits Houston -- the man needs no introduction, himself now a fixed piece of pop culture. Everyone on Earth at this point knows him from all or one of the following: the monolithic Star Trek, his appearances on The Twilight Zone, the '80s cop dramedy TJ Hooker, the scarifying Rescue 911, as Denny Crane on The Practice or his pseudo-spoken-word albums, which are now cause celebs among some record collectors. Remember his version of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"?
Younger people may have first gotten a taste of Shatner with his Priceline commercials, though his character, "The Priceline Negotiator," seems to have died a fiery death in the most recent installment of the popular ad campaign.
$#*! My Dad Says, his last TV series, was based on a humorous Twitter feed from Justin Halpern chronicling the nonsense-free bits of wisdom from his caustic father. It was canceled in May 2011 after only one season on CBS.
This one-man-show idea began a year or so back when a run of these style of shows killed audiences in Australia, and Shatner and his team soon decided to bring them stateside. Last month the show did 19 shows on Broadway in New York City to wide acclaim.
I talked to Shatner via e-mail about what audiences can expect from his one-man show and what he plans on doing while in Texas for his 81st birthday.
Art Attack: What does a one-man William Shatner show entail?
William Shatner: People seeing things inside you that most of the rest of the population keeps hidden. It means a great deal of laughter, some tears, hopefully some knowledge that pertains to each individual in the audience. It means making yourself vulnerable. If the audience follows custom, it means standing up at the end of the show and having a good cheer.
AA: What do you think people who aren't familiar with your career -- if that's even possible in 2012 -- come away with after leaving your one-man show? Shatner: My hope is that they come away with a sense of satisfaction that they have spent an evening in the theater which touched them in the original way that theater was meant, which is a one-on-one connection that is an emotional and spiritual one.
AA: Is being alone onstage for a couple of hours as daunting as it sounds, or at this point is it just like a party to you?
Shatner: You know, it is a party. It's a party with laughter, it's a party with intimate conversation. It's a party with people who are strangers getting to know each other even if it is by osmosis.
AA: Can Shatner super-fans expect to hear any secrets and/or dirt about your lengthy time in the spotlight? I am sure Trek fans will be chomping at their clothing for something, anything about the series that they haven't heard.
Shatner: There are terrible secrets revealed in this one-man show, horrible things that only by coming to the theater will you be able to understand. It is filled with gossip and innuendo and dirty laundry, mostly other people's. It's called entertainment.
AA: You have done so much TV now, that you have seen so many fads in programming come and go. What has been your most rewarding work on the small screen? What challenged you to exercise the craft?
Shatner: I try to think that everything I do is the best I can possibly manage; therefore, every moment that I am working as an actor is a challenge to do my best.
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AA: Have you ever been offered an acting role or an entertainment opportunity that would surprise us?
Shatner: I don't think you would find it surprising that I was offered a long-term contract with Chippendales male strippers.
AA: Your birthday is the day before your Houston stop. What makes a great birthday for you? Family, friends? A stiff drink? An expertly made steak? You will be in Dallas (BOO), after all, that day...
Shatner: Everything you have said is exactly what I want for my birthday. The one slight thing you forgot to mention was my wife being there. I've spent quite a bit of time in Houston and loved every minute of it.