TOPEKA -- The Topeka Performing Arts Center, in association with Spirit Productions, is pleased to bring Edward Asner to Topeka for the presentation of his one-man show, "FDR," on April 27th.
Asner, a Kansas City, Kansas native, has already returned to the Sunflower State, bringing his stage show to the Parsons Municipal Auditorium last week. The benefit for the Labette Community College Foundation drew 1,000 people. The show has sold out in virtually every city where Asner has performed.
How did the idea start for a portrayal of our 32nd President, Franklin Delano?
Asner told CNN, "I had nothing to perform on a cruise ship, the Theatre At Sea cruise ship. [Theatre At Sea president] Philip Langner thrust it at me and I did a reading of it and it seemed to go well. And, subsequent of that, he talked about running a one-man touring show with it. And I said fine -- I had nothing better on my mind except watching the increased box office of "Up." [laughs] I set to work on it and I finally mastered it, and I love working anew on it every night I portray it. ... What I'm doing there, I'm a Ghost of Christmas Past, I guess you can call me, taking people through the latter years after "Sunrise at Campobello." It was written by Dore Schary.
Asner has very little memory of the Roosevelt years, growing up as a teenager in KCK. He also told 13's Ralph Hipp he doesn't have any distinct memory of where he was April 12, 1945.. the day Roosevelt died. (Many Americans remember exactly where they were, and how they heard the news of his death.)
Asner says FDR's influence has grown on him in adulthood, and has certainly shaped his political views.
"Oh, it certainly did. ... Through all those years, I never found any giant to compare to him and now, many, many years later, I wonder why is he not worshipped more in this country for what he did ... and many of his successors have tried to tear down what he has established for this country. He gave us the socialism that we have in this country now that all those tea-baggers can't recognize. And I would like to see how they felt about socialism if we removed Social Security, unemployment insurance, child-labor laws, old-age pensions and what have you -- how they would flail about without that safety net."
Asner says audience members reaction to the play has almost been a letdown, "because when they greet me afterward, it's primarily "How do you do it? How do you ..." Their praise is for my having achieved the mastery of all the lines. ...
The best compliment that I got was one of my first shows. A young lady who worked at the theater said, "When you began, I heard Roosevelt, but by the time you finished, I saw him." I couldn't ask for anything better than that."
Tickets for Asner's Topeka performance will be available from Ticketmaster and www.tpactix.org.