Cancellation of show starring Ed Asner in Cedar Rapids leads local theatre to close brick and mortar location

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -TV icon Ed Asner was set to perform in-person with RHCR Theatre in Cedar Rapids later this month. Asner died on August 29th at the age of 91. With that devastating news, the theatre group decided to cancel their upcoming production.

“I grew up watching Lou Grant,” Matt Ford said, Founder and Executive Director of RHCR Theatre.

Ford’s kids knew Asner as the voice of Carl Fredricksen in ‘Up,’ they also knew his as Santa in the movie ‘Elf.’

“Oh my god I couldn’t believe it. We were going to bring Ed Asner to Cedar Rapids to star in a show for RHCR Theatre it was so exciting,” Ford said.

Asner was set to star as God in RHCR’s production of ‘God Help Us’ at Kirkwood later this month. Duane Larson of Cedar Rapids was cast to perform alongside him.

“Even though I didn’t get to actually share a stage with Ed Asner, just the fact that I was chosen to do that is incredibly, just oh my god I’m so honored by that,” Larson said.

It’s a show RHCR was counting on to sustain itself in its brick and mortar location in southeast Cedar Rapids. The show’s cancellation, coupled with the pandemic has left them with no choice but to close their doors. They will still perform moving forward, just without a permanent home.

“By the end of the month, end of September all of this will be packed up and put into storage and we will then go back to being a nomadic theatre,” Ford explained.

The theatre isn’t giving up on its dream of performing ‘God Help Us,’ even if it means filling the role of God which was written specifically for Ed Asner.

Ford has been working out the details with Liza, Asner’s daughter and producer of the show.

“She expressed to me again how much her dad really wanted to honor his commitments that he agreed to do,” Ford told us.

Their goal is to bring the show to Cedar Rapids early next year, to honor Asner’s legacy.

Moving forward, the theatre may have lost its physical space, but it hasn’t lost its passion to perform.

“We will find some place to keep doing theatre because I think it’s needed in this town, and I think it’s needed right now,” Ford said.

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