Local residents will be able to see all the hard work and effort of some of Fort Frances High School’s students tomorrow night when Muskie Theatre’s production of “M*A*S*H” opens.
And the students are pumped and excited about the three-night run.
“So far, rehearsals are going pretty well,” said Michael Brady, a Grade 9 student who is playing Capt. Benjamin Franklin Pierce, better known as “Hawkeye.”
“We’re still working out a few kinks, but I’m sure it’ll all be worked out by Thursday,” he added.
Brady, who really enjoys acting, thinks “M*A*S*H” is a great choice for a play.
“I think it has a good theme and setting,” he noted. “It’s good for the older people because there is a film and a TV series, so a lot of people can refer to it.
“They’ll be able to understand most of the jokes and the punch lines.”
“‘M*A*S*H’ has to do with a lot of people who will be in the audience,” agreed Grade 10 student Heather Williams, who is playing Lt. Janice Fury. “Many were a part of the war. Also, a lot of people know and like the TV show.”
However, Williams said the play is more similar to the film than to the TV series.
Brady noted he’s never seen the movie, which starred Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, but has seen a few of the TV episodes.
“On TV, there’s no character called ‘Ugly’ and the main characters are ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘Trapper John.’ In the play, it’s ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘Duke,’” he explained.
“I thought this play would be interesting because even though I don’t watch the show that much, I’ve always like it,” said Grade 11 student Matt Badiuk, who is playing Capt. John “Trapper John” McIntyre.
“The play has quite a bit of humour in it. It’s meant to be kind of crazy,” he added.
“M*A*S*H” follows the antics of the crazy doctors as they chase nurses and fun.
Characters Hawkeye, Duke, Walt, Trapper, Ugly, Radar, Ho-Jon, Devine, “Hot Lips” Houlihan, Maj. Burns, McCarthy, Fr. Mulcahy, and Col. Blake try to survive the hustle and bustle of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.
“It’s been a lot of work because I’ve had to memorize more lines than I would if I were another character,” said Brady. “I feel I have the dedication and the spare time, so I could just pick up a script and learn the lines.”
Brady went through a few characters, such as “Ugly,” “Duke,” and “Trapper John,” before ending up as “Hawkeye.”
“I like my role now a little bit better than the others,” he noted, adding he was quite surprised to have one of the “better” roles in the play since this is his first year in high school.
Badiuk said this show is a little different than others Muskie Theatre have staged in the past. “It’s not one big storyline, but a bunch of smaller storylines combined,” he explained.
“There are no leads,” added Jordan York, who is playing the role of Capt. John (“Ugly”) Black. “There’s no big roles. There’s no small roles. It’s a mutual thing, which focuses more on the whole crew rather than individuals.”
And it’s not only hard work for the students, but also the teachers involved.
“A lot of effort has been put into this production,” noted Williams. “Mrs. [Willa] Kunkel, Ms. [Kim] McKinnon, and Ms. [Shannon} Produniuk have done so much to make this possible.”
Fort High teachers Owen Johnston, Anna Pierroz, and Kent Kowalski also have helped the students out.
Badiuk noted they also get a lot of support from the community. “Especially with the props. Most are borrowed and some are donated,” he said.
Sometimes there even are more obstacles to overcome besides learning lines and getting props.
“We had to do some re-writing of the script because there was a lot of black humour, which wasn’t appropriate for high school students,” noted Kunkel.
And York will be performing on crutches after having surgery today to repair torn cartilage in his knee. “It wrecks all my actions and everything, but the show must go on,” he stressed.
The students are hoping for a smooth run on opening night, as well as a good turnout.
“The audience is going to see a lot of students doing what they want to do and having fun,” Williams said.
“I’m pretty sure the audience is going to be blown away,” added Brady. “It’s going to be great.”
The show also runs Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the curtain rising at 7 p.m. all three nights.
Tickets—available at Northwoods Gallery and Gifts on Scott Street—cost $12 for adults and $7 for students and children.