Theater

Ed Asner Brings Political Comedy to Whitefish

The legendary 91-year-old actor will play a three-day show at the O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center on July 9-11

By Maggie Dresser
Ed Asner as God in “God Help Us!” a political comedy. Photo by Richard Kowalski.

After a canceled show last year, Flathead Valley residents are eagerly awaiting “God Help Us!,” a political comedy starring award-winning actor Ed Asner at the O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center on July 9-11.

Hosted by Whitefish Theatre Company (WTC) and the Montana Actors’ Theatre based out of Havre, organizers say there’s been a widespread positive response surrounding the show.

“I’ve never seen tickets go so fast,” WTC Executive Director Gayle MacLaren said. “In one day we practically sold out of everything. I think people are ready to go out and see something and do something.”

At 91 years old, Asner is best known for his role as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Lou Grant Show” during the 1970s and 1980s, and MacLaren says he’s drawing a crowd from older generations.

“It’s a name they know and they remember him fondly,” MacLaren said.

In “God Help Us!,” Asner plays the role of God and acts as a mediator between two individuals on opposite sides of the political spectrum, speaking to audiences of “all political persuasions.”

“It’s a political comedy for our times,” MacLaren said.

The comedy is written by Samuel Warren Joseph and Phil Proctor, produced by Asner’s daughter, Liz Asner, and directed by Mitch Levine.

With connections to the Montana Actors’ Theatre, Asner performed “God Help Us!” in Havre in 2018 and traveled to Billings in 2019. He’ll also travel to Fort Peck Summer Theatre to perform for two nights.

At the O’Shaughnessy, Asner will perform with his own cast, but the show’s organizers also allow theater companies to use their own local actors for the other two roles to promote community engagement. In 2018, local Havre actors Jay Pyette and Kate Hagen joined Asner, and the Montana Actors’ Theatre will provide stage management in Whitefish for the show.

Asner has also starred in numerous other television shows, including “The Bronx Zoo” and “Studio 60 on Sunset Strip.” He won an Emmy Award for his role in “Roots,” an ABC miniseries, and he played Santa Claus in “Elf.”

With a number of voice roles on his resume, Asner was in several animated series in the 1990s and played the voice of Carl Fredricksen in “Up!,” the Academy-Award-winning Pixar film.

Asner was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 1996 after winning more Emmy Awards than any other male actor.

While “God Help Us!” is sold out for July 10-11, a third showing on July 9 at 7:30 p.m. has been added. For tickets, call WTC at (406) 862-5371.

For more information, visit www.whitefishtheatreco.org.

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