William Shatner’s expanding universe, at Morristown’s Mayo Center

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The one-man show that beamed into Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center on Friday is called Shatner’s World.

But it’s more like the Universe: Ever-expanding.

WilliamShatnerThis is a very good two hours that could be a great 90 minutes.

William Shatner’s 84 years are a rich tapestry…and he shares every thread.

A master storyteller, he spins yarns, hoofs and rattles off one-liners like the vaudevillians he admired as an immigrant’s son in Montreal.

We rocket from his first theatrical triumph, as a tyke at summer camp, to the Shakespearean stage, Starfleet Command and Priceline.

Short film clips punctuate his journey, and we get glimpses of storied figures he’s met along the way: Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney Jr., Christopher Plummer, Sir Patrick Stewart, and yes, George Takei and Leonard Nimoy from the Enterprise.

Trekkies may leave this show feeling somewhat disappointed, however. Captain Kirk does not linger on the bridge.

Still, there are a lovely vignettes, like his hero’s welcome at NASA during the Apollo program, and a video clip with Stewart, reflecting on his Jean-Luc Picard days. It’s a revelatory moment in which Shatner makes peace with his own iconic Star Trek heritage.

Other gems include a kidney stone, which fetched a fortune for charity.

Indeed, we learn so much about the star’s medical history that the audience probably should be required to sign a HIPAA release.

There are funny family jokes (“What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother? Eventually, the Rottweiler lets go”), amusing anecdotes from the golden days of live television, and an hysterical love scene with Koko, the talking gorilla.

We detour through horse country, and redneck country, and ski country, sidestep the hallowed halls of McGill University, and do battle with rats in motor homes.

The man is prolific and eclectic. Shatner’s credits include nearly 30 best-sellers, an interview program, series such as T.J. Hooker and Rescue 911, and Emmys and Golden Globes for his portrayal of quirky attorney Denny Crane on The Practice and Boston Legal.

Divorces, deaths, children … so many threads!  At several points, Shatner flirts with the big picture, a theme to tie together this whole super-galactic ball of string. Like when he riffs about…

… taking risks, and saying yes to life’s opportunities even (and especially) when they include making peculiar recordings of spoken songs (Has Been, Seeking Major Tom)…

Or

…the power of love to warm our personal voyages through the cold corridors of space…

Or

…facing the Final Frontier, mortality.

Any of these musings would provide a satisfying end to the evening.

Barring that, a brief intermission would suffice. So earthly bladders can boldly go where… well, you get the picture.

 

 

 

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