PITTSBURG — Pittsburg Community Theatre will open its first show of the season, “M*A*S*H”, on Friday at Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.
According to a release from PCT, the show, directed by Jason Huffman, will “bring to life iconic characters” who first made their appearance in a book by Richard Hooker, then a 1970 film directed by Robert Altman, and finally a popular long-running TV series.
Captain John “Trapper John” McIntyre will be played by Tony Sanchez, who recently was in “Footloose” and earlier in “Willy Wonka.”
Why did he audition?
“Well, it’s ‘M*A*S*H’,” Sanchez said. “It’s iconic so I had to be in it.
“Like most people, I was excited to do this, thinking it would be much like the television show when in fact it is more like the movie.”
“It’s great, it’s really funny,” he said.
Sanchez said he isn’t quite sure how he got the role as Trapper John but he’s glad he was.
“I was happy to get him because he’s kind of a lady’s man — which is so unlike me,” he said.
“The biggest joke of the whole show,” his castmates chimed in, laughing.
First time performer with any performing arts James Graham was cast as Captain Frank Burns.
Recently retired, he was looking for something outside his comfort zone.
“He’s killing it though,” his castmates chimed in with praise.
Graham has read the book, seen the movie and all of the episodes of “M*A*S*H” on television.
“I grew up with all of this stuff,” he said. “This was my dad’s generation.”
According to Graham, Captain Frank Burns is an outsider and doesn’t quite fit in, however, Captain Augustus Bedford “Duke” Forrest and Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, are the real “outcasts,” Chris Stonecipher and Kevin Pommier said about their characters.
Graham said jokingly that his wife said the character wasn’t much of a stretch from real life. By this he means the stubborn or abrasive behavior, i.e. he’s a “butthead.”
Stonecipher has performed in many plays.
“Like Tony and James, I loved the TV show growing up,” he said. “Now I’m in my early 30s — I watched the movie 30 years ago — and I was a 10-year-old kid and I loved it,” he said. “There’s something about M*A*S*H that is timeless despite the fact that it is very much encased in a time capsule.”
For Pommier, he’s actually watched the movie more than the TV show.
“I remember my grandfather used to watch M*A*S*H and that’s one of the things we connected with,” he said. “I knew I was never going to be in the military, but he lived that life so he always kind of inspired me to do something and I know this is a comedy but it kind of helped me know the life a little bit.
“There’s a timeless quality about it, I know it is set in the Korean War, but there are so many things that are talked about and discussed in a comedic discussion in ‘M*A*S*H’ are still really relevant today.”
He was hoping for maybe the role of “soldier one” or “soldier two” but he was cast as Hawkeye working close with Duke.
“I’d say if you could hear us backstage, you might need to turn off the recorder,” he said jokingly. “It’s been a whole lot of fun, I’ve had more fun on this stage than any other show.”
“I’ve been doing theatre for over 20 years,” he said. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Pommier and Stonecipher’s characters work close, which also works out well for the two actors — and brings a bit of fun for some of the cast.
“I feel like Kevin and I, especially, we’re perfectly partnered for this show,” Stonecipher said with a laugh.
Sanchez agreed and said, “These guys do something a little different every night, I’m always about to crack up.”
The “glue that holds everything together,” Corporal “Radar” O’Reilly, will be played by Fayelyn Kmiec.
Kmiec has been in PCT since she was 16-years-old and in the past she was in the play “Gypsy”. “I’ve made a slight improvement, back then I was a cows butt, and now I’m Radar,” she said.
“It’s a great improvement,” her castmates chimed in chuckling.
Earlier this year, she was in a play at Fort Scott Community College, where she studies.
“I was in ‘Gilligan's Island’ and played Ginger, but I think this one is the most interesting I’ve had so far since this is traditionally a male-centric role, and I’m a female inside the role and had to get down the mannerisms of Radar,” she said.
How she managed?
“Thank God for Hulu access and all 200 episodes of the TV show,” Kmiec said.
Kmiec, too, also remembers “M*A*S*H” from visiting her grandfather.
“As soon as I heard about the production I thought this would be a fun and interesting play,” she said.
Not expecting her role, she auditioned and later received a text from her mom saying, “congrats Radar, hope to see you on stage soon.”
Her grandfather will be at the auditorium to watch her opening night — most likely all of the shows, she said.
Want to go?
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 29-30 and 2 p.m. March 30-31. Tickets may be purchased online at www.memorialauditorium.org, or by calling 620-231-7827, or by stopping by the box office, 503 N. Pine, during business hours.
Tickets on the main floor are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and children, and are $8 general admission for the balcony. Details: www.pctinfo.org
Gen. Hamilton Hartington Hammond, John Mazurek
Pvt. Boone, Stephanie Powers
Lt. Colonel Henry Braymore Blake, Mark Johnson
Captain Bridget McCarthy, Marcie Burk
Lt. Janice Fury, Megan Spiers
Sergeant Devine, Michael Doue
Lt. Louise Kimble, Kaitlyn Hanks
Captain Frank Burns, James Graham
Father John Patrick Mulcahy, James Teats
Captain Walter ’Walt’ Waldowski, Mason Bayliss
Captain John ‘Trapper John’ McIntyre, Tony Sanchez
Captain John ‘Ugly’ Black, John Womeldorff
Corporal ‘Radar’ O’Reilly, Fayelyn Kmiec
Capt. Benjamin Franklin ’Hawkeye’ Pierce, Kevin Pommier
Capt. Augustus Beford ‘Duke’ Forrest, Chris Stonecipher
Ho-Jon, Phoenix Burk
Pvt. Lopez, Paula Teats
Korean Woman #1, Mallory Womeldorff
Korean Woman #2, Trinitie Burk
Lt. Nancy Phillips, Hannah Gatson
Major Margaret Houlihan, Allison Townsend
Congresswoman Goldfarb, Natalie Harris
Dean Mercy Lodge, Kennedy Tomasi
Miss Randazzle, Hallie Hart
Mitzi, Lindsey Viets
Fritzi, Alyssa Hess
Agnes, Alexis Daniels
Director, Jason Huffman
Costume Design, Lisa Quinteros
Lighting Design, Alex Wiedemann & Kyle Newby
Sound Design, Jason Huffman
Set Design, Jason Huffman
Publicity, Andra Stefanoni
Creative Designer, Kirsten Burke
Set Construction: Jason Huffman, Kyle Newby,
Alex Wiedemann, Mason Bayliss,
and Emma Noonoo
Props & Set Decorations: Joella Skyles, Mimi Little,
and Kyle Newby
Stage Crew, Kyle Newby & Xavier Huffman
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.