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Review: God as Ed Asner Comes to the Franklin Theatre

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TV legend, Ed Asner, whose long celebrated career was highlighted by playing Lou Grant, the TV news producer and journalist on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, made a delightful sold out return to the Franklin Theatre, on Friday night, August 23rd, in “God Help Us”. It was hard to believe that at 90, he could still carry a three person show, but he was his delightful charming self as God, coming down to judge Mankind, and rid earth of its present turn toward hate, anger and continual miscommunication, by focusing on a couple who have allowed politics to separate them. The couple are played by local actors, Leslie, played by Mary Tanner, as the conservative wife, and Lawrence, the liberal husband, played by Brain Hull.

God isn’t there to settle the question between red and blue, but to get them to listen, communicate and care, and in doing so, get them to understand by “wearing each others shoes”.

Fortunately, God knows what he is doing, and by the end of the show the two remember what brought them together as a married couple. 

Earlier, Ed told me on a phone interview, “When I was in Los Angeles, talking show ideas about all the trouble in the world with some writer friends, it came to me, “WHAT WOULD GOD DO?” 

It was from that idea that he ended up producing and starring in “God Help Us!”.

The show’s director, Mitch Levine, from L.A., did an excellent job recreating the Heavenly Court Room. The stage and lights gave the appearance of ice chiseled podiums and a lofty judge’s ice chiseled perch for God to sit and hold judgement. The lighting was in purples and gold, giving the set a sense of spiritual grandness, with Ed sitting on high, in his perch overseeing the testimony of the divorcing couple.

Playing the politically channeled couple were two local actors. These roles are recast in every city, giving qualified actors a chance to work with Ed. They were Mary Tanner, and Brian Hull.

Mary Tanner has spent 35 years acting in New York,  Los Angeles and Nashville. For the past 15 years she has concentrated on puppet building, puppet storytelling and script writing with the Nashville Public Library and Brianimations. At the Library she is lovingly known to the children as Mary Mary. Later this fall, she can be seen in Nashville Rep’s Pipeline.

 Brian Hull has been known as “The Professor” since his days as a performer at Opryland USA, and now at the Nashville Public Library, where he is the head of Wishing Chair Productions and the artistic director of their International Puppet Festivals. He is also the head of BriAnimations Living Entertainment; producing and performing puppet shows and hand-drawn animation. 

Once again the Franklin Theatre has produced exciting live performances for the community’s enrichment, located at 419 Main Street, Franklin, TN, and for information, go to www.FranklinTheatre.com.  

Across the street is another local delight in the McCreary’s Irish Pub and Eatery. For those wanting to park early and eat before the Franklin Theatre show, or just enjoy fantastic home cooked Irish delights, McCreary’s owner, Natasha Hendricks, her sister, Ashley Farmer, front house manager, and her friendly staff, cook up food that make us all feel Irish, like Bangers and Mash; Fish and Chips; wonderful pot pies, and even Corn Beef Egg Rolls; along with 3 pour Guinness, and Imperial Pints. It’s located in a quaint pub setting, at 474 Main Street, Franklin, TN, and call 615-597-3797.

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