William Shatner show tackles death
William Shatner didn't beam in, but gave fans the next best thing at the start of his one-man Broadway show.
Appearing to the familiar orchestral strains of the Star Trek theme, then soaking up the applause, he said: "Thank you. You need an entrance because you put on a few years and a few pounds, nobody recognises you."
That will not be be a problem at the Music Box Theatre, where Shatner's World: We Just Live In It has opened for a limited run ahead of a month-long, 15-city US tour.
During his 100-minute set that flits between self and self-parody, William traces his life - from growing up in Canada to acting alongside Christopher Plummer to Star Trek and Boston Legal to his musical career.
He does it all dressed in a pair of jeans, a suit jacket and an open-collar shirt, and uses that comforting-yet-strange, overly theatrical, halting delivery.
Approaching his 81st birthday, William 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.
And there is a lot of death in the show. William discusses how he approached killing off James T Kirk - using the same "awe and wonder" Kirk had for life - and also his father's passing (we learn he escorted the body home to Montreal and picked out a cheap pine coffin, thinking his father would appreciate the thriftiness).
There is a story about the death of a beloved horse and a mention of his third wife Nerine, who drowned.
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," William says. "And life doesn't have to end when love is present."
Still, he is bothered by what comes next. He lingers on the supposed final words of Timothy Leary ("Of course") and Apple chief Steve Jobs ("Oh, wow"), wondering what it all means. "What happens at the other end? I don't know!" he says, almost screaming.