Curtain opens on M*A*S*H, let the laughs begin

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Unionville performs their adaptation of an  American television classic

By Dave Conard Sports Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Director Betsy Ballard loves her cast for M*A*S*H

SOUTHEAST KOREA (a.k.a UNIONVILLE Auditorium)—Everybody has heard of “M*A*S*H”, an adaptation of the 1970 feature film, which was developed by Larry Gelbart and is still one of the greatest shows in television history.

Mash’s final episode is still to this day one of the most watched Television episodes in history with 125 million viewers and concluded the eleven-year run of a comedy-drama set in South Korea.

The boys (and Klinger) are having a friendly game of cards

On Thursday night, the auditorium of Unionville High School will transform into the 4077th Army medical hospital in Uijeongbu circa the Korean War, thanks to the efforts of director Betsy Ballard and the amazing ensemble she has put together.

As the curtain fell on the spring musical, Ballard and her cast and crew of more than 50 got to work in earnest burning the late night oil with typical practices lasting upwards of six hours, daily.

The curtain rises to Hawkeye, a.k.a. Benjamin Franklin Pierce, the iconic role-played by Hollywood legend Alan Alda (portrayed by Peter Galer) and “Trapper John”, Captain John McIntyre (played by Brandon Baumeister) as the laughs get rolling from there.

“It would be pretty overwhelming to think about the Alda character,” said Unionville senior Galer. “This is such a great show and the cast is amazing, Hawkeye was a “cool” character” being in the theatre you don’t usually get considered a cool kid, it is really fun to be the “cool guy”. The audience will love this show it is so funny and we have added some incredibly hilarious stuff, including Klinger.”

Ballard and her cast have taken some liberties with the creative end of the production expanding Radar O’Reilly’s role and infusing the humor by adding a role of Corporal Klinger, played by Colin Roberts.

Hawkeye (Peter Galer) and Captain Forrest (Connor McShane) do a song and dance thinking of home

“How could you have M*A*S*H without Klinger,” said Ballard in her 2nd time around with this production. “We are doing this show partially in tribute to Colin Fitzpatrick, who was in our last run of MASH and whose life was tragically ended in an accident. It is such a fun show to do with all of these kids that I love so much.”

Fresh off an amazing run in “Phantom of the Opera” the cast features the talents of Abu Akki (playing the Korean young man Ho-Jon, whose dream is to be just like his American friends), Connor McShane (Captain Augustus Bedford Forrest), Natalie Walden (Mitzi Bonwit) and Cynthia Waibel , who will have theater-goers in stitches, pardon the pun.

“This year has been a dream come true,” said Unionville senior Waibel, who plans on pursuing theater next year at Ithaca College. “We have such an amazing auditorium and to have such outstanding productions in my senior year is beyond what I could have ever hoped for. I am going to miss all of these amazing people next year, we have come together like a family.”

From the dress-clad Colin Roberts, to sophomore newbie John Cronin (who is playing the part of Harry Morgan, who recently passed at age 96) in his first ever theater role, Unionville has assembled an eclectic cast of veterans as well an enthusiastic new comers that are sure to provide thrills when the lights come up for real.

“We have people like John (Cronin) who has never been in any play before and he offers suggestions everyday of how we can improve what we are doing,” added Ballard. “It’s that energy along with contributions like what he have had from every one that has made this so much fun to do.”

Cynthia Waibel and Ashish Streatfield (Captain John Black "Ugly")

“We have guys like Jimmy Gill from our football team, who has never acted before. After watching the work that they put in Jimmy actually got our entire cast together and told them much he respected them and their efforts. We compared the practice that we do to what the football teams does to get ready and that really had an impact on our kids, it was something special.”

There’s a jolly encounter with the baby-talking Bonwit sisters, the worst tap-dancing act the U.S.O. ever sent over seas. A sergeant is selling dumb GIs fishing rights in the Bay of Phum.

Show times are Thursday thru Saturday, April 26-28 at 7:30pm in the Unionville Auditorium, tickets are available and will be sold at the door $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for students.

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