Two unlikely strangers come together ‘Visiting Mister Green’
By Diana Saenger“Visiting Mister Green,” the story of how an accident brings an elderly retiree and a young man together to change their lives, has been translated into 22 languages, played world wide and won many national and international awards, including Drama League (NYC), Best Play nominee. Christopher M. Williams directs the show through March 11 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.
Williams has a history at the NCRT as an actor and co-director of several productions, including “Glorious!” and “My Name is Asher Lev.” His other credits include: Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix Theatre, Actor’s Theatre, AZ Jewish Theatre, Southwest Shakespeare Company, New Village Arts. He is the artistic director of the newly formed Oceanside Theatre Company.
When NCRT Artistic Director David Ellenstein asked Williams to direct “Visiting Mister Green,” he agreed, though he never heard of the play.
“I did some research on it and fell in love with the story,” Williams said. “It’s simple, but has so many levels. For the characters it’s about discovery of self and how to survive.”
Ross Gardiner meets Mr. Green when he almost runs over the man and is charged with reckless driving. Gardiner receives a sentence to do community service, which includes regular visits to Mr. Green. Neither man is happy about this as the encounters open old wounds and force them to face realities.
“The play is very funny because of the characters miscommunication, but for some — as it was for me — it will be very cathartic,” Williams said. “It’s about finding your purpose and who you are and how to help others and accept help. It takes humility to allow others to help you.”
Williams found his leads in very capable hands. He worked with Robert Grossman (“Old Wicked Songs”) on several shows at NCRT and in Arizona. “Robert is an amazingly gifted actor and human being,” Williams said. “The wealth of knowledge he has is so deep intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. That makes him so present in the role of Mr. Green. He gives it everything it requires.”
Craig De Lorenzo’s résumé includes “My Name is Asher Lev,” “Amadeus,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and more. Williams worked with De Lorenzo in “Asher Lev.”
“He’s an incredibly gifted young actor, and it’s wonderful to watch him work,” Williams said. “He’s full of a brightness, energy and vitality that allow him to approach his character from an amazingly introspective place. Both of these two actors are really from different places — much like their characters. They work so well together and have great instincts. That makes the director’s job much easier when the actors come in with all these gifts.”