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November 29, 2002 - Image 84

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Generation Gap

JET stages Jeff Baron's "Visiting Mr. Green."

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SUZANNE CHESSLER
Special to the Jewish News

0

Veteran actor Arthur Beer plays Mr.
Green and Timothy McKernan, who
has studied acting with Fleischer, por-
trays the younger man.
"This play is funny and warm and
will tug at audiences after the laugh-
ter," Fleischer says. "It shows how two
very different people can come togeth-
er and become better human beings
because of their relationship."

ne side of Jeff Baron's family
comes from Detroit, but it's
the other side that inspired
a play soon to be performed
in Michigan.
Baron's mother, the former Shirley
Fine, lived in Detroit during the
1920s and 1930s, so he knows about
the area from her.
The playwright's late paternal grand- Reviving A Childhood Interest
Baron, who lives in New York, earned
mother, who lived with his family in
a bachelor's degree in film production
New Jersey, relied on his help before
from Northwestern University and a
her death, and from her, Baron gained
master's degree in business from
insight into the needs and feelings of
Harvard.
seniors, which he adapted for his two-
Although he worked as a corporate
person production, Visiting Mr. Green.
executive, his childhood interest in
Performed by the Jewish
Ensemble Theatre Dec. 4-
Jan. 5 at the Aaron DeRoy
Theatre inside the Jewish
Community Center in
West Bloomfield, the pro-
duction explores the rela-
tionship between an
impoverished older man
with health problems and a
healthy young man mak-
ing his way in corporate
America. Both are Jewish.
"This play had a very
long gestation period," says
Baron, who has traveled
Arthur Beer as the cantankerous Mr. Green and
around the world, includ-
Timothy McKernan as corporate executive Ross
ing Israel,- to see it per-
Gardiner:
Brought together by court order.
formed in many languages.
"I was working as a
screenwriter after leaving the corporate writing never waned. He got back to
it when his father was terminally ill.
world when a friend came to me with
"While listening to my dad talk
an idea for a play based on his volun-
about his life and what was meaning-
teering.
ful to him, I decided to see if I could
"It didn't sound like a play because
actually write for a living," Baron
there wasn't any conflict, but later, I
recalls. "I wrote a screenplay and the
had the idea that it could be interest-
first producer I took it to bought the
ing if the young man was forced to
rights, although it hasn't been made
visit the older man," Baron says.
into a film yet.
"After my grandmother died some
"I went on to work on The Tracey
years after, I wondered what that play
Ullman Show, A Year in the Life, Sisters
would be like if the older man was like
and four or five other series," he says.
my grandmother and the younger
"It was very satisfying in getting
man was like me."
positive feedback for my writing, but
Directing Visiting Mr. Green at JET
is Yolanda Fleischer, who is on the the- it wasn't very satisfying in terms of my
words reaching the public as I wrote
ater faculty at University of Detroit
them. In theater, words aren't changed,
Mercy and formerly served as artistic
and writers get to be part of the
director of the JCC's Readers Theatre
process, which I thoroughly enjoy."
at the JCC.

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