The Jonesville-based Sauk Theatre will perform its stage adaptation of the 1970 anti-war comedy, “M.A.S.H.,” in Hillsdale’s Phillips Auditorium next month.
Initially, The Sauk had intended to stage the play at its home theater in Jonesville. But, since the roof collapsed in late December, the venue has moved to the college.
The Sauk chose to perform “M.A.S.H.” mainly for its comedic value, but also because the story carries culturally relevant content.
“February shows need to be comedies, just because of the time of year,” director Kristin Hood said. “We needed a comedy — ‘M.A.S.H.’ was perfect. And I think it is very relevant today because of the political issues we have going on right now.”
The original 1970 film is a loosely-constructed narrative that follows the antics of a unit of battle-fatigued American field doctors in the midst of the Korean War.
“Even though the show was written in the early ’70s, it has a very modern feel to it, which has been interesting for our development of the show,” Trinity Bird, executive manager of The Sauk Theatre, said. “It’s a period piece, but also has that feeling of now.”
To unify the storyline and make “M.A.S.H.” more palatable to a stage audience, The Sauk has added a musical element, with the film’s theme song, “Suicide Is Painless,” wedged into scenes throughout the play.
“The show — like the movie — is a lot of vignettes,” Hood said. “I thought that using the theme song which is so recognizable and poignant to tie the whole thing together would be a unique way to do that that the audience would enjoy.”
Lisa Cryderman, who plays Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, agreed.
“The theme song adds a little to the play. It makes it unique,” she said.
Bird said he is confident the play will still succeed, despite the change of venue.
“This space works very well for the show and we have a loyal patron group that we hope will come visit us here,” he said. “In the tradition of The Sauk Theatre, the first performance will be a ‘pay what you can’ night. That basically means you could come see the show for a quarter if you wanted. We do this for people who couldn’t normally afford to see the show. It’s a good night for college students.”
Performances will be at 8 p.m. on Feb. 11 – 13 and 18 – 20, and at 3 p.m. on Feb. 14 and 21. Tickets are available at The Sauk’s website and at the door of Phillips Auditorium before each show.