Ticket information is at the bottom of this post. Enjoy the interview.
The Military Men
The cast of the Evansville Community Theatre’s summer performance of M*A*S*H is rehearsing in the high school for hours almost every evening. Memorizing all those lines is the big task right now. After rehearsal last week, some of the military men of the show sat down with the play’s publicity coordinator to give you an inside look at putting on the play. There were lots of laughs along the way!
What do you like about your own character?
Tom Beaver/Sergeant Divine: He’s quite different, he’s a wheeler-dealer. He’ll
sell you anything that isn’t tied down…like the Bandaid Concession Stand at Yankee stadium.
Lee Dammen/Frank Burns: That’s what he tries to sell me!
Dave Persons/Father Mulcahy: But he knows he’s already sold it!
Jim Brooks/Colonel Blake: I like playing Henry because I get to pretend I’m in
charge. And even though it’s probably the captains and the enlisted men who are really running the place, I get to act like a commanding officer anyway.
Lee Dammen/Frank Burns: That’s one of the things I like about Burns. I can act like a jerk…completely out of character for me!
Erik Worthington/Radar: I really wanted to be Radar because he’s my favorite
character in Mash. He’s young, I’m young. But it kind of stinks having your ear right on the ground to listen for helicopters all the time!
Lee Dammen/Frank Burns: You’re probably the only one that could do it! The
rest of us couldn’t get back up again!
How do your characters get along with each other?
Lee Dammen/Frank Burns: Everybody hates me!
Tom Beaver/Sergeant Divine: And understandably so!
Jim Brooks/Colonel Blake: I think there’s respect for good doctors, more than
for good soldiers, and Frank is trying to be a good soldier without being a good doctor.
Dave Persons/Father Mulcahy: The Father was one of my favorite characters.
You thought he was naive, but you aren’t really sure that he’s naive. You’re never sure what he might do.
Aside from the outright comedy, what might the audience take away from play?
Jim Brooks/Colonel Blake: No matter how bad it looks, if you respect one
another and pull together as a group, you’re going to get through, when you wouldn’t necessarily as individuals.
Tom Beaver/Sergeant Divine: There’s a part regarding depression. The doctors basically said it the best…there’s always tomorrow.
Bill Reed/General Hammond: I’m one of the few in the cast that lived through
the conflict. I was not in Korea, but I lived through that era. Having a hospital on the front lines -- this was new. It was tried at the end of World War II, but they didn’t have the mobile hospital until Korea, such as what we’re portraying here. It’s a humane thing that has a lot of meaning.
Dave Persons/Father Mulcahy: It was the advent of the helicopter that made a
lot of that possible. A lot of innovations took place at that time with the mobile hospital, to be able to bring the soldiers to get treatment, not a hundred miles, but just a few miles away from where they got injured.
How is this experience going for you?
Jim Brooks/Colonel Blake: What’s so much fun for me being here is that this is
my first time being on stage in 30 years and I know there are at least two people who have never been on stage. Yet there are some who have been regulars in Evansville theatre and in the area. It’s just that blend of people who volunteer to come here and are working together to make a good evening -- and having a good time doing it. Like searching for costumes -- there is no olive drab in a thrift store within 45 miles of Evansville!
Lee Dammen/Frank Burns: I’m just thankful for all the people who have helped
me. I’m one who has never been in a play before. Everybody’s been pitching in and telling me how to practice and how to do this and that. Some of the people don’t know me from Adam and it seems like I’ve known them forever already. It’s going to be an honor to work with everyone.
Tom Beaver/Sergeant Divine: This is just one of many performances with the ECT.
Bill Reed/General Hammond: Last summer’s Beverly Hillbillies was my third
Play. There was a 30 to 40 year span since I was in Showboat and Oklahoma. A big span, and now two years in a row!
Dave Persons/Father Mulcahy: I’ve been in a lot of ECT plays. After I retired in 1992, my first play was the Odd Couple. Before that I’d been in high school musicals.
Erik Worthington/Radar: Mostly I’ve been in musicals before. This will be my
fourth play – the Evansville High School musicals, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Beauty and the Beast, and a Stoughton play.
Why do you think people will enjoy this play?
Dave Persons/Father Mulcahy: As with last summer’s play, The Beverly Hillbillies, M*A*S*H is something the greatest majority of people have seen on television. You can see a lot of your own life or people you know in it.
Bill Reed/General Hammond: I just discovered that M*A*S*H is still on!
Lee Dammen/Frank Burns: I know a gentleman who was in a M*A*S*H unit, I
believe in Vietnam. He claims he’s going to come and see this every night because he knows what it was like and he commented on my character. He says, “There was one of you in there. I can’t wait to see it – not that you’re that kind of a guy! It’s going to be fun to watch.” He’s excited to see it because he’s lived it.
Erik Worthington/Radar: I have high school friends that have seen M*A*S*H and they really like it. I’ve only seen a couple episodes of Mash and I really liked it.
Jim Brooks/Colonel Blake: With TV-Land and with cable, the high school kids have never lived in a time without the show. It’s been around continuously for 30 years.
Tom Beaver/Sergeant Divine: All I have to say is bring your family to the show and see our new family.
Jim Brooks/Colonel Blake: Get your tickets early, you don’t want to hear, “You should have been there last night.”
M*A*S*H will be presented in the state-of-the-art Evansville Performing Arts Center at Evansville High School, 640 S. Fifth St. in Evansville. Performances are June 29 and 30, and July 5, 6, and 7 at 7:30 p.m.; with a matinee on July 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are all general admission and are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets are available in advance in Evansville at the Union Bank and Trust, Piggly Wiggly, Evansville Pharmacy, and Bank of Evansville.
For information, contact producer Jennie Nehls at 608-882-4926 or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.