Yup, one of William Shatner’s iconic moments from the movie STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982), and we got to hear it twice, once in the movie and once live, roared by the man himself, William Shatner, in person, as part of William Shatner Live on Stage! an event which my two sons and I were fortunate to attend the other night at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH.
The event was comprised of two parts, the screening of STAR TREK II, and then Shatner’s appearance on stage.
It was fun to see STAR TREK II back on the big screen again. The last time that happened for me was probably in 1985 or so, when waaay back when I was in college, it was part of a film series at my dorm at Boston University. It was probably a 16 mm print. And while back in the day we college students were certainly Star Trek fans, the audience at the Capitol Center was jam-packed with enthusiastic and very vocal Star Trek fans which made watching the film even more rewarding.
Cheers erupted at each star’s name in the opening credits and on their initial appearances, as well as during their most memorable lines. The aforementioned cry of “Khan!!!” had the theater rocking.
Still, this Star Trek enthusiasm at the movies was hardly a first for me. I’m old enough to have seen the first film, STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) on the big screen and remember the audience cheering out loud at the actors’ names during the opening credits and during their initial appearances, since this was the first time we had seen these characters since the original 1960s TV show. I also remember waiting in a long line for tickets in Boston to see STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) which probably received the most hype, all of it deserved, of any Star Trek film other than the first one.
It was fun to watch STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN to be sure, but the reason the auditorium was filled was not for the movie, but for the man, William Shatner who came out on stage after the film to be interviewed and answer pre-selected questions from the audience.
If you’ve seen Shatner speak when he’s not in character, you know he’s full of energy and is a gifted storyteller. Making this even more amazing is his age. He’s 87. You wouldn’t know it by the vigor he displayed on stage. He seemed considerably younger.
As I said, Shatner is a gifted storyteller, and he spoke for just under an hour after the movie, and it was a lively, humorous, and highly entertaining event. For me, the best part were his recollections and anecdotes from his time as Captain Kirk, and even though I had heard some of the stories before, as I’ve read the books he’s written on his Star Trek memories, they were still laugh out loud funny, like when he told the story of how he used to prank De Forest Kelley.
He also spoke of his friendship with Leonard Nimoy, and shared interesting tidbits on Star Trek, like how after every movie the studio would destroy the sets because they believed it would be the last movie in the series, but the films kept making money.
Shatner also spoke on his love of horses, motorcycle riding, race car driving, and his work on other shows, including BOSTON LEGAL (2004-2008), T.J. HOOKER (1982-1986), and THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964). He spoke of his friendship with James Spader, and used it as an example of how most showbiz friendships work, in that actors intend to stay in touch but usually don’t because they are so busy. As such, Shatner said as much as he enjoyed his friendship with Spader, he hasn’t seen him since the show ended. Shatner said this would have happened between him and Leonard Nimoy, but the films kept bringing them back together, enabling the two to establish a much longer friendship.
Shatner also spoke of his famous TWILIGHT ZONE episode, with the humorous anecdote of how his children used to ask him to show them “the look,” which was his frightened expression from that TWILIGHT ZONE episode, an expression he delighted the audience with by springing it on us at just the right time.
And, as I said, he bellowed out to us, “Khaaaann!!!” in person, which once more produced thunderous applause.
My sons and I had purchased the special VIP ticket, which enabled us to go back stage afterwards for a special photo-op with Mr. Shatner (see photo above.) By the size of the line, I would say that at least half of the audience had also purchased these tickets.
It was a special moment to be sure. Yeah, it lasted only a couple of seconds, but to be able to stand next to William Shatner, say hello and thank him, and have him respond, that’s special. I was so caught up in the moment I can’t honestly remember what he said in response, but it was gracious and warm, and it was a gratifying moment.
I was fortunate enough to have met James Doohan who played Scotty on STAR TREK back in 1986 when he visited Boston University, and so I’m happy to have met two members of the original Starship Enterprise.
I know, it’s just a TV show, and William Shatner is just an actor, a celebrity.
But STAR TREK is more than just a show, for so many reasons, and the biggest is its positive view of the future, and William Shatner with his iconic portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk had a lot to do with shaping that view.
For so many of us, STAR TREK is a major part of our lives, not only as a form of entertainment, but as way of thinking and seeing the future, an open-mindedness and acceptance that sadly does not always exist in the real world today.
But let’s not get too deep here.
The bottom line is seeing William Shatner live on stage was a good time, and honestly I’m amazed at how good Shatner looked and how much energy he had throughout the interview.
It was certainly a night I won’t forget any time soon.
Live long and prosper!
Thanks for reading!