Review Roundup: SHATNERÂ'S WORLD: WE JUST LIVE IN IT
SHATNER'S WORLD: WE JUST LIVE IN IT opened tonight, February 16, at the Music Box Theatre. The show takes audiences on a voyage through Shatner's life and career, from Shakespearean stage actor to internationally known icon and raconteur, known as much for his unique persona as for his expansive body of work on television and film. BroadwayWorld will keep you updated below as reviews come in!
Returning to Broadway for the first time since 1962, William Shatner is an award-winning actor, director, producer, writer, recording artist, philanthropist and horseman. The creative team for SHATNER'S WORLD: WE JUST LIVE IN IT is Scott Faris (Director), Edward Pierce (Scenic Design), Ken Billington (Lighting Design) and Peter Fitzgerald (Sound Design). SHATNER'S WORLD: WE JUST LIVE IN IT is produced by Innovation Arts & Entertainment, Larry A Thompson Organization, Adam Troy Epstein, Larry A Thompson, Seth Keyes, and Josh Sherman.
Tickets are available at the Music Box Theatre box office or through www.telecharge.com and are priced from $126.50 to $39.00.
Scott Brown, Vulture: Barely scripted, often free-associative, and held together with video clips so queasy-fuzzy Shat might well have bought them on Canal Street en route to the theater, Shatner's World is a unique end-user Broadway experience. For non-Trekkers, I'd put it somewhere between attending the Charlie Sheen Comedy Tour and getting trapped in a basement with an eccentric grandparent who has recently discovered YouTube. For the faithful-those who thrill visibly at every out-of-focus glimpse of the Gorn-Shatner's World is much more. It is nothing less than Beowulf's final battle, the mortal bellow of a supernovan ego in the face of Death.
Michael Sommers, New Jersey Newsroom: Bowing on Thursday for a brief sojourn at the Music Box, the actor's solo show provides a pleasant 100-minute stroll down memory lane in this strictly fans-only attraction. ... It's not much of a solo Broadway show compared to more ambitious events like Billy Crystal's "700 Sundays" or Elaine Stritch's "At Liberty," but "Shatner's World" will satisfy customers simply pleased to observe Shatner being Shatner in the flesh.
Jeremy Gerard and Philip Boroff, Bloomberg: Affability and comic timing go only so far in this 95-minute, inch-deep, survey of his nearly 81 adventure- filled years. Even the opening is anti-climactic, as a beam of light appears and we hear the sound of a "Star Trek" transporter as he announces offstage that he won't be beaming in. He walks on instead.
Charles Isherwood, New York Times: If you're going to have the chutzpah to call your show "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It ...," it is probably wise to enter joking. William Shatner." href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/william-shatner/index.html?inline=nyt-per">William Shatner, who does not need an introduction to anyone who has made it to the second sentence of this review, does precisely that in the chatty, digressive and often amusing tour of his unusual acting career, which opened Thursday night at the Music Box Theater for a brief Broadway run. Despite the absurdly (joshingly?) self-aggrandizing title, Mr. Shatner shows a welcome tendency to poke fun at himself that anyone who has seen his commercials for the travel Web site Priceline.com will probably recognize.
Howard Shapiro, Inquirer: Shatner's World is equal parts endearing and funny - a mixture of two worlds, really: everyday and rarefied. The show is a must for Shatner fans, but you needn't be all that familiar with his work to understand a lot about him through his stories, which travel from his roots in Montreal through college there at McGill University, and jobs that grew more challenging with each "yes." ... Shatner's appetite for new challenges pushes him to constantly redefine himself; he has been America's captain of Star Trek on TV and in the movies. He's been T.J. Hooker on the so-named TV show, host of TV's early reality-based Rescue 911, then oddball lawyer Denny Crane on Boston Legal and The Practice. And more. If you want a glimpse of him as himself, catch him interviewing celebs on Bio's Shatner's Raw Nerve. If you want to watch him build a character without saying a word or moving, click Priceline on the Web. If you're looking for Shatner the raconteur, you'll find him on Broadway.
Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: This may be the most familiar William Shatner of all – Shatner as talk show guest. In 100 minutes, an amiable, informal Shatner tells the sort of jokes and anecdotes that you have heard him deliver on Johnny Carson/Merv Griffin/Leno/Letterman over the last 100 years - sometimes corny, sometimes mildly self-deprecating, often semi-humorous, occasionally semi-coherent. ... Shatner's aim seems to turn his life story into an entertainment that is no more taxing, and no less relaxed, than the Tonight Show. Too often, though, it is way too relaxed. ... Your tolerance for such sloppiness masquerading as spontaneity surely depends on how much of a William Shatner fan you are, and what you expect for $126.50.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The crowd on one preview night seemed game to just let Shatner be Shatner. None wore "Star Trek" tunics or spoke Vulcan. They were happy simply to watch him boldly go. ... Perhaps it's the fact that he's approaching his 81st birthday, but Shatner seems to be dwelling a lot on mortality these days. "Death is the final frontier," he says at one point, a twist on the opening monologue of "Star Trek." There's actually a lot of death in the show. ... Yet the show somehow avoids becoming overly maudlin. "Love is the difference between the cold light of the universe and the warmth of the human spirit," Shatner says. "And life doesn't have to end when love is present." ... Shatner closes the show by performing his only song of the night - "Real" from his 2007 album "Has Been." It is very much like Shatner himself, a little out of date, a little bizarre, but endearing nonetheless.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter: To quote a famous Star Trek catchphrase, resistance is futile to William Shatner's one-person show, Shatner's World: We Just Live in It. The octogenarian actor-here making his first Broadway appearance in a half-century--is such an engagingly hammy and funny raconteur that only the most curmudgeonly will begrudge him this celebration of his life and career. ... The rambling monologue, including such subjects as his love of horses (an adjustable office chair, the show's chief prop, is called into much action for this part), his mortality ("Death is the final frontier!") and a personal encounter with Koko the gorilla, is infused with enough one-liners to fill a stand-up act. Not all of them land, but his joy in delivering them is infectious.
Matt Windman, AM NY: William Shatner's new one-man show is not the most challenging piece of theater you're likely to see this year. You've probably also seen more inspired one-person shows. But it does make for a fun evening of personal reminiscence, gossip, video clips and old-fashioned humor - along with one of his strange musical performances. ... Shatner makes for a congenial presence and is very expressive throughout. He did seem a bit jittery and flustered at first, mumbling some of his lines and fiddling with the microphone packet in his back pocket, but he grew more relaxed as the 100-minute evening wore on.
Peter Marks, Washington Post: Dressed in jeans, gray vest and dark jacket, he's inspirationally vigorous for an octogenarian. What he has to say is not quite as inspirational, and the way he freely associates all through the show, directed by Scott Faris, imbues the proceedings with a pronounced loopiness. ... Often, you get the sense in "Shatner's World" that Shatner isn't sure how seriously we take him, or how seriously to take himself. This makes the show a strange entry in the genre. For those not in the die-hard Trekkie category, the sensation might be that of feeling pinned in a corner at a dinner party by someone whose stories aren't that funny.
Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: Sure, there's a whiff of irony in all of the get-a-load-of-me. And the show is painless and amusing. But there's no structure, flow or overarching theme during its 90 minutes, so it meanders. Like my attention.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: It's on the rambling, ramshackle side - think of it as "S#*! William Shatner Says" - but the star's admirers will gobble up this ham-and-cheese sandwich of a show. As for those on the fence, they may find themselves won over by the man's unique mix of candor, self-deprecation and grandiose ego.
Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly: William Shatner must be one of world's great dinner guests. You can imagine sitting next to him for a couple hours and listening to myriad name-dropping anecdotes: that time he served as Christopher Plummer's understudy in Henry V, or that time he costarred on Playhouse 90with a forgetful Lon Chaney Jr., or that time he met Koko, the sign-language-using gorilla. You've heard some of the stories before. Most of them go on too long. But Shatner is never less than charming. Anyhow, it's just dinner.
David Cote, NY1: Shatner and his director, Scott Faris, aren't exploring any formal frontiers in this minimalist setup. There are a couple of chairs, a few unused props and a large planet-shaped screen upon which the crew projects photos and videos from Shatner's career on stage and famously in the "Star Trek" series and movies. In between these video interludes, Shatner pilots a rolling office chair, regaling us with tales of his boyhood in Montreal, early thespian experiences with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and how "Star Trek" led to a long-standing friendship with NASA.
Suzy Evans, Backstage: "Star Trek" fans will be disappointed to learn that he doesn't beam in but instead makes his entrance as an ordinary actor. ("Everybody beams in," he jokes.) Starting with his origins in Montreal, Shatner charts his career chronologically, from understudying Christopher Plummer in "Henry V" at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival all the way to announcing the final wake-up call for the space shuttle Discovery. His famous gigs-the Priceline Negotiator, "Boston Legal," "Reno 911," "The Practice," and of course "Star Trek"-make modest appearances, but the insider jokes are rare and fairly obvious, even to the Shatner neophyte. Whether they're funny is another question.