“We were basically one and the same, although Jim [Kirk] was just about perfect, and, of course, I am perfect.”
A new year, a new frontier for The Paramount.
They say history is performed nightly at The Paramount Theatre, and it’s a vivid chronicle full of colorful acts and characters. Award-winning actors, directors, authors and recording artists grace the stage, but seldom all at the same time. Next will be a titan amongst pop culture icons, and a man that fits the title of every artisan listed above. Look, up on the stage! It’s Captain James T. Kirk, it’s T.J. Hooker, it’s Denny Crane! It’s the legendary William Shatner.
Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room first. Yes, pretty much everyone on the planet knows him as Star Trek‘s own Captain Kirk. William portrayed Kirk as a cocky and often bullheaded hero, establishing himself as the centerpiece of a memorable ensemble cast that included DeForest Kelly, George Takei, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and Leonard Nimoy as a half-alien who is cooler than a cucumber.
Although Star Trek lasted only three seasons, Shatner’s unique brand of bravado and dialogue delivery helped position the show as a pop culture phenomenon that has been rejuvenated time and again over the decades. Trek resurfaced as an animated series, various spin-off TV series, and a number of cinematic adventures. Heck, they’ve even rebooted the original series in a new anthology of big screen adventures directed by J.J. Abrams. Try as you might, Chris Pine. There’s still only one James T. Kirk.
It’s an iconic role, to be sure. And anyone in such a role would be in danger of typecasting. It didn’t help that many considered Shatner and Kirk to be one and the same. And in the early 1970s, William struggled shedding the mantle of Star Trek. However, while other Trek alumni were running from their pop culture alter egos, Kirk decided to embrace the melodramatic icon of awesome that was Kirk. Do you remember that Leonard Nimoy autobiography he wrote called “I am not Spock?” Yeah, you better believe that if Shatner had written an autobiography around the same time it would’ve gone in a much different direction.
Not that “Trekkies” are the only ones to champion the persona of Shatner. He took a path that embraced the cultural persona and perception of William Shatner and parlayed it into years of continued television success. In the early 1980s, he reappeared on TV in the police drama T.J. Hooker, and later hosted the reality series Rescue 911. After portraying versions of himself as a commercial pitchman, he finally garnered critical acclaim (and two Emmy awards) for his role as Denny Crane in the legal dramas The Practice and Boston Legal.
Not content to reside only in film and television, Bill’s career choices were often as varied as Star Trek adventures. One could safely say his ventures in the musical realm boldly went where no career had gone before. A hybrid of spoken word, performance art and “singing,” his melodic riffs and covers are unlike anything you’re likely to hear on this planet. Take, for instance, this cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
And, in case you’re wondering… there are no Grammys on his mantle.
Did you know that Shat is a scribe also? I don’t mean just captain’s logs from the final frontier, but rather he has penned numerous works of fiction and non-fiction. He has directed television episodes and even a feature film (STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER). Bill Shatner’s a jack of many trades, and is nearly omni-present in the media. He continues acting on TV, does voiceover work in that signature stilted delivery of his, and continues to lampoon his own persona as a cultural icon. He’s serious about not taking himself to seriously, yet remains a pop cult of personality.
Over the decades, William Shatner has crafted a world unto himself. After making a splash as the most famous star captain in history, he found a novel way to break away from one defining role: by running head on into it and making it work to his advantage. Now we can partake of his stories and experiences. With his depth of background and a fifty year career, I can easily seeing this show go in any one of a billion different directions. It’s his world, after all, and it’s one where one man can tackle and conquer anything he sets his phasers on. Where Shat happens.
Worry not, it will definitely be worth it. This performance will be unique, rewarding and most certainly will not be a con.
Oh, excuse me. I meant… not be a KHAAAAAN!
Come hear William shoot the Shat on Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.