Australia ("big 'Star Trek' and 'T.J. Hooker' country") first beckoned to hear Shatner's life stories from the stage about a year ago. He did the deed "sit-down style, with an interviewer, rather like that 'Actors Studio' [TV] series."
Then his homeland of Canada called. Since that audience fondly recalled Shatner as a fresh-faced Shakespearean actor, he dressed up a bit.
Ah, but when New York producers also got interested, "it suddenly became a whole 'nother kettle of fish to rise to the standards for a Broadway show."
Writing the monologue himself, Shatner suffered "many sleepless nights, fear, anxiety, dread. I'd try to write between 5 and 7 a.m., then go drive around telling the stories out loud. Then would come another period of berating myself because they weren't good or funny."
Can you imagine his shock? Shatner won raves from New York critics last month and a nightly audience response "so explosive at the end, with so much love apparent, that I can't control the tears. I have to leave the stage."
So what's the night all about, Mr. S.?
"Tell the readers that I get into the comedy and the music [stuff from his more recent, rock and rant period plus a contemporary country tune that's taken his fancy]. There's talk of horses. Love. Mother and father. There's 'Star Trek,' of course, though more about what happened around the show. There's 'Boston Legal,' too."
That's when so much of America finally gave in to the charms of "Shatner playing Denny Crane playing William Shatner," a critic's observation with some truth to it, said Shatner, "because in the end you only really have your own experiences to deal with as an actor."
"You could say it's a journey of discovery about me that I'm making myself," concluded the good Captain. "A journey with a beginning, a middle and an end, leaving you with the unspoken question of who I am, where I am and what, if anything, have I accomplished. I present evidence, but then it's up to viewers to reach their own conclusions."
"Shatner's World: We Just Live In It" beams into the Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St., 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, $57, $77 and $300 (VIP seating, plus a meet and greet), 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org.
Contact Jonathan Takiff at 215-854-5960 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his tech blog, "Gizmo Guy" at www.philly.com/blogs/gizmo.