And now he’s ready for a break
by Melanie Jongsma
MUNSTER, Ind. (August 25, 2019) – Ed Asner is looking forward to spending some time at home. After “being busy catching planes and trains and cars” to get from one performance to the next in cities across the country, he’s ready to sit still for a while.
He’s glad to finish this particular run on a high note. “This audience was quite rewarding,” Asner said of the 400 people gathered at Munster’s Theatre at the Center on August 25 to see his performance of A Man and His Prostate. People in the front rows eagerly waved to him even as he walked across the stage to take his seat, and their laughter throughout the show made it a fun experience for him as well as them. He interacted with them jovially from the stage and the audience responded with a standing ovation after the 80-minute show.
Asner appreciates the applause, but he also likes knowing his art can make a difference. Prostate in particular provides him an opportunity to educate as well as entertain, to be an activist as well as an actor. The show is a true story—though it’s Ed Weinberger’s story, not Ed Asner’s—of a bout with bladder stones and prostate surgery that saved Weinberger’s life. In telling it, Asner makes the serious subject of male health approachable.
He’s heard from “a couple” people who have seen the show and then taken steps to do something about their health. Though it’s an uncomfortable subject for many men, Asner says, “A few have admitted to me that the show changed their life.” One of the startling facts Weinberger wrote into the script is that every 16 minutes a man dies of prostate cancer. If the show helps men be proactive rather than ignoring the issue, Asner will consider his busy schedule a worthwhile investment.
“He loves the shows,” says Asner’s daughter Liza, who handles booking for Prostate as well as another show he’s currently starring in, the political comedy God Help Us! Being on stage in these smaller productions — Prostate is a one-man show and God Help Us! is a three-person performance — allows the 89-year-old Asner to continue plying his craft in a way that is most productive for him. Whereas television and film acting require makeup, wardrobe, and staying on set all day even for just one scene or one line, small-cast stage productions allow Asner to come in, do his part, and be done.
Events like Sunday’s performance of A Man and his Prostate and Saturday’s performance of Karen Carpenter hits, by Heidi Kettenring, are benefits for Theatre at the Center. Offered only a few times during the year, these are usually just one-day performances, and tickets sell out quickly. Sometimes, as in the case of Asner’s show, the Theatre offers a meet-and-greet session for an additional $50. Patrons who purchased that option were allowed to stay after the performance and then gain access to the Center’s Board Room, where they met Asner one on one, exchanged pleasantries, requested autographs, and posed for photos. Asner seemed to enjoy the social hour as much as his fans did.
Back home in Los Angeles, Asner will have some time to recoup and perhaps return to the birdwatching he used to enjoy. He will stay home the rest of August, but then in September he will start up the tour again. He’ll be in Evanston, Illinois, with A Man and his Prostate on September 8 and 9, and then in Rochester, New York, on September 19, 21, and 22 with God Help Us!
Theatre at the Center is also hoping he will return to Munster for another show.
About Theatre at the Center
Founded in 1991, the 410-seat TATC is a year-round professional theater at its home: The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road in Munster, Indiana. TATC is an accessible venue with plenty of free parking. Visit www.theatreatthecenter.com for more information about the venue, current shows, and season tickets.