Ed Asner Takes Center Stage in Naperville

Ed Asner has come to town and he’s taken on a fitting role as “God” in the play “God Help Us!” The comedy puts two political polar opposites in a debate as God moderates.

“I would like to help lead rather than mislead,” said Asner. “I’m hoping that this play serves as part of the glass of America looking at itself and deciphering where it’s really going wrong.”

Asner brought the play to Center Stage Theater to practice with local actors before taking the show to LA, all with the help of Hollywood director Mitch Levine.

“I think it’s a play for our time,” said Levine. “America is more divided today than it’s ever been. Our politics are challenging, our national leadership is challenging, and I think this is an opportunity to explore those challenges but really to return to an idea that this is an America.”

And Asner shared those sentiments- hoping audiences take away more than just laughs.

“We need to make sure that the dilemma we’re projecting to the world through this play is an accurate one,” said Asner. “I think America is all fouled up right now. I think most Americans would agree. And these two are perfect examples of how America disagrees with itself.”

And playing the almighty, Asner wasn’t shy about sharing his opinion of the political characters in the play.

“I’d slap these two silly until they were totally devoid of any ideas, to look at each other, to love each other,” he added. “I’d pull them up by their shirt tops and I’d say, ‘now love and be loved.’”

Asner rehearsed with four local actors who each perform in two shows during the August 24 weekend.

“And the moment where you realize you’re working with him is when you turn because he’s talking to you and you make eye contact and I’m acting opposite Ed Asner. So it’s surreal, it’s exactly what anyone would think. I’m absorbing all of this as much as I can because it will be a memory that will last me a lifetime,” said Kandiss Hernandez, the executive director of Center Stage Theater.

Karen Coleman and Matt Dingeldein perform opening night at 7:30 p.m. and on August 25 at 4 p.m. Stuart Vance and Kandiss Hernandez take on their roles for August 25’s 7:30 show and on August 26 at 4 p.m. Check out Center Stage’s website for more details.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.

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