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Friday, May 6, 2016

Local 'M*A*S*H' production was moving

Monday, October 6, 2003

The Clay County Communty Theater did a wonderful job (as usual) with their latest production, "M*A*S*H".

I was a little surprised to learn that the book/movie/TV series had been made into a stage production, and I was also delighted to see what had been done with it.

The novel by Richard Hooker was based on the experiences of a real Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit in Korea. It is the story of how human beings cope in a war environment, especially humans who are not entirely sold on the idea North Koreans are really the enemy of all that is good about America.

Of course, the regular Army personnel also find themselves in conflict with the doctors and nurses who put their calling to heal above the Army way of doing things.

The author's bias is seen in Frank Burns' (played by Tony Smiley) mental breakdown and Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan's (Rochelle Reberger) frustration with Dr. Pierce (Lee Reberger) and Dr. Forrest (Kevin McCrea) (better known as Hawkeye and Duke).

I admit that "M*A*S*H" holds a distinct fascination for me. Maybe it's because I grew up in the throes of the Vietnam War. I was not drafted, but I did register, did not burn my draft card and would have served if called up. But, I never felt any compunction to enlist.

I have watched the movie and the TV series - repeatedly. We got together with friends to watch "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", the last episode of the series, and I check in regularly with an Internet newsgroup that exists only to discuss "M*A*S*H" in its various forms.

Did you know the author of the novel also wrote sequels, dealing with the lives of Hawkeye, Trapper John (T.J. Sneddon) and other characters after the Korean Conflict ended? None of those have been produced for television or film.

All this leads to a few observations about the Brazil production.

I really appreciated the way the story was handled. I found the movie very crass and was delighted to find the story line smoothed out in places during the local production.

The Community Theatre of Clay County developed characters more completely than did the movie.

For example, you probably knew that "Hawkeye" received his name because "Last of the Mohicans" was his father's favorite book. Did you know Trapper John got his nickname because he once "trapped" a co-ed? (At least that's what he tells a nurse in the stage production). Did you know what happened to Ho-Jon (Michael Lunsford), the Korean houseboy in the Swamp? He was first drafted by the South Korean Army, shot by the North Korean Army, patched up by Hawkeye and Duke and sent to America to study medicine.

I was also glad the local theater didn't mention Frank and Hot Lips' ongoing affair. But Hot Lips' characterization as a "regular Army clown" who went over Col. Henry Blake's (Vince Braun) head to complain to Gen. Hammond (Harold Burton) remained intact.

There was no mention of homemade martinis or other alcohol in the Brazil production and that did not deter from the fine entertainment one bit.

As always, the food at the theater was scrumptious -- Brazil has one of the finest dinner theaters in central Indiana, and that is borne out by the fact the production was sold out three nights running.

While people will always disagree over the validity of any given war, the human element will always be there and must always be considered by the generals in Washington.

Serving at the 4077 --

The M*A*S*H acting ensemble included: Harold Burton, Josh McClusky, Vince Braun, Molly Wheeler, Elaine Clarke, Rachel Alstott, Scott Babb, Melody Lunsford, Tony Smiley, Sam Glover, Carl McKinney, TJ Sneddon, Rod Clarke, Mitch Lunsford, Lee Reberger, Kevin McCrea, Michael Lunsford, Sandy Gibbens, Julie Parsons, Megan Neier, Michelle McCrea, Amy Bradbury, Sarah Braun, Rochell Reberger, Harold Burton and Sarah Braun.

The production crew included: Director Vicki Shorter, Costume Coordinator Sandy Gibbens, Lighting Director Mark Shorter, Spotlight Operator Katelin Braun, Sound Director Carol McConnell, Set builder Mark Shorter, Carl McKinney, Vicki Shorter, Mitchell, Michael Lunsford, Rachel Alstott and Sandy Gibbens, Dinner Theatre Coordinator Barbara Randall and Dinner Theater Pianist Rita Rothrock.

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