Greenwood Little Theatre will jump-start its 2019-20 season with a play based on a successful 1970 feature film, which was adapted into a popular long-running television show that remains a hit with fans today.
“M*A*S*H” will open at 7 p.m. Thursday at the W.M. Whittington Jr. Playhouse. The play will also be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and next Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee next Sunday.
The comedy takes place in South Korea during the Korean War.
“It’s at the Medical Army Surgical Hospital 4077,” said Nichole Henry, the play’s director. “So they’re the ones right there on the front lines, and they’re the ones who are sewing everybody up.”
With a cast of about 30, the 4077 includes not only soldiers but also doctors, nurses and surgeons.
“It’s a whole small, barebone hospital,” said Henry.
The “M*A*S*H” director said the play focuses on two of the 4077’s newest surgeons, Hawkeye and Duke.
“And they cause a little bit of trouble when they first get there,” she said.
The play will include laughs, a few dramatic moments and will end on a high note, Henry said.
Richard Hooker’s “M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors” was published in 1968. The book was based on Hooker’s experiences as a surgeon at the 8055th MASH in South Korea. He wrote several other “M*A*S*H” novels from 1968 to 1977.
The original novel was turned into a feature film in 1970 starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould.
A spin-off of the film, the TV show “M*A*S*H” ran from 1972 to 1983, which was more than three times as long as the war it chronicled. The TV series is the most popular and best-known version of the “M*A*S*H” franchise and was ranked No. 25 in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.”
In 1973, Tim Kelly adapted “M*A*S*H” into a play based on the book, television show and movie.
Assisting the “M*A*S*H” director is her father, Robin Henry, who inspired her to direct the Greenwood Little Theatre production.
“I wanted to get my dad back involved,” Henry said. “I knew that he loved doing military pieces. He did ‘No Time for Sergeants’ in 2009, so that was 10 years ago.”
Henry said “M*A*S*H” is one of her father’s favorite TV shows.
“I think we have seen probably every episode multiple times together,” she said. “So we know these characters really well.”
The play features a cast of about 30.
“It’s been really fun getting that many people together and in the same building at the same time, especially to do something because they like it,” Henry said.
Although directing a large cast takes hard work, Henry said it’s been a lot of fun.
“Luckily, my dad’s been here,” she said.
Robin Henry, an architect at Johnson-McAdams, also designed the “M*A*S*H” set, which will be reminiscent of the TV show and movie.
“It’s supposed to have a certain look, and you want it all to be there,” said Henry. “It’s one of those shows where people know the TV show and the movie so much that they’re going to be looking for those little things.”
Greenwood Little Theatre also presented “M*A*S*H” in 1997. The former production’s cast members Bobby VanDevender and Eddie Amelung will be returning but will be performing as different characters in the upcoming play.
“To me, that’s pretty neat to have people who were in it before and are in it now,” said Henry. “They’ve been a lot of help, too.”
The “M*A*S*H” cast will also feature two military veterans, Bob Draper and Scott Wright.
Henry said she thinks this play will appeal to several generations.
“You’re going to have the people who know it from the movie. You’re going to have people who know it from the TV show,” she said. “The TV show has played pretty much almost consistently for a while. To me, when there’s nothing else on, I’m like, ‘Well, I know ‘M*A*S*H’ will be on TV Land.”
Henry said her favorite part of this play is really her favorite part of any Greenwood Little Theatre production.
“Just bringing folks together, some people who might not even normally be around each other are coming together and making something,” she said.
The show is free for current Greenwood Little Theatre members. Tickets for non-members cost $10 for students (age 21 and younger) and $15 for adults. Visit greenwoodlittletheatre.com or call or text 662-947-1075 to reserve seats.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.