Members of the cast of ‘M.A.S.H.’ rehearse in Phillips Auditorium. | Courtesy Sauk Theatre Facebook page
Members of the cast of ‘M.A.S.H.’ rehearse in Phillips Audi­torium. | Courtesy Sauk Theatre Facebook page

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.