William Shatner is in full performance directorial mode. We’re onstage in a darkened Centre for the Performing Arts running through the second rehearsal of the day. He’s calling the shots through a full dress.
“Andy–that’s you on lights, right?–I want you to sense the mood of the show. Comedy means brighter, poignant means dimmer. Make the transitions slowly. No! Too fast. Yes…MUCH better.”
“Garret. GARRET! Are you clear on the video cues? Garret? WHERE IS GARRET?”
“Michael! That doesn’t work as well as I thought. If we’re long, let’s skip that section.”
He’s firm, direct and focussed, a stage actor in his element. It’s fascinating to watch. Every second I’m with the guy, I’m learning more about performing.
This is still weird for me. Even in the middle of the dress rehearsal, I find myself drifting a bit, thinking “This guy I’m talking to is soooo much like William Shatner. Oh…wait.”
We wrap about 90 minutes before doors open and two hours before curtain. We only finish when Bill–I’m calling him that now–is satisfied that we’re ready.
Before the show, I took an anonymous wander through the crowd in the lobby. There’s a guy in a dress Star Fleet uniform carrying a phaser. There’s a white-haired woman loading up on merch: a CD, a t-shirt, a book, a poster. A group of young fans talk about a Shatner appearance recent sci-fi convention. The ages run from young children to people with canes and walkers.
Finally, it’s showtime. I’m introduced, make a comment to the crowd about the Canucks 4-0 loss to the Rangers Tuesday night and then introduce Shatner.
The. Crowd. Goes. Wild. A standing O before he says a word. Right then, I knew that things were going to be just fine.
* * *
For a first performance, it was about as flawless as anyone could have dreamed. The audience, the technical cues, the sound, the video and the multi-media elements were perfect. I didn’t screw up. And Shatner was on fire. Within minutes, he made be completely forget that we were sitting on a stage in front of 1800 people. It was comfortable and…fun. Act 1 flew by. Act 2 went by even faster.
Immediately after walking offstage to rapturous applause, the first thing Bill did was dispense compliments and handshakes to the entire crew. There was a quick huddle to talk about the running time of the two acts. The first act needs a 15 minute trim. Act 2 is better, but there’s an area that could be tightened. A sip of water and he was off to conduct the VIP reception. The Energizer Bunny has nothing on this guy.
I’m travelling with the crew on a tour bus, but the bus is dead. Bad fuel, apparently. We check into a hotel with plans to leave the next morning and drive straight through to Regina. (Question: Why does so much of downtown Vancouver shut down entirely by midnight? Does no one go out for a late drink/meal in this city? The only place we could find was the casino, which is open 24/7. Good grilled cheese sandwiches, though.)
Bill and his wife went back to their hotel. They won’t be on the bus with us, of course. Capt. Kirk has his own plane.
More coming soon in this space right from the tour bus. Meanwhile, here’s a review from last night.