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Beloved series takes to stage
Playhouse welcomes "M*A*S*H"
Cast members, from left, Marty Baker, Joe Springer, Mary Clair Klooster, Dennis Bayne and Don Hawkins rehearse for “M*A*S*H" on Wednesday at the Cumming Playhouse. - photo by Autumn McBride

A movie and television classic will be brought to life through May 22.

The Gypsy Theatre Company began its run of “M*A*S*H” on Thursday at the Cumming Playhouse.

The show’s director, who goes only by Mercury, said the play “follows the ideas of the TV show.”

“It’s a lighter comedy than the movie, but at the same time, the characters are still in a war,” Mercury said.

“The reason a lot of that comedy comes out is because they are dealing with such large amounts of stress. They have to have comic relief to deal with the feeling of oppression and death all around.”

Set in the Korean War of the early 1950s, “M*A*S*H,” which stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, follows the antics of Hawkeye and Duke, two of the best chest surgeons in the war.

Their misadventures include trying to get a young Korean to the United States and entered into a good school.

There’s also an encounter with the Bonwit sisters, the worst tap-dancing act the USO sent overseas, and the recreation of a monster movie that cures the dark moods of the proprietor of a painless dental clinic, among other mishaps.

While there are differences between the stage production and the 1970s TV show, the long-running series still had an impact on the local actors.

Marty Baker, who plays Father Mulcahy, the hospital’s chaplain, said he wanted to be a part of the show because of his love of the series.

“I’ve seen every episode at least 10 times,” he said. “My grandkids get tired of me watching the reruns.”

But for the show’s lead, Travis Young as Hawkeye, the show wasn’t such a hit.

Young said he was “too young at the time” the series aired to appreciate it and lost interest every time his father turned it on.

“I’d be bored just by the music when I would hear it coming on,” said Young, noting that he has since gained an appreciation for M*A*S*H’s unique humor that incorporates drama.

“That underlying theme of the show, the intensity and urgency of war, are so important,” he said.

As far as playing a character as iconic as Hawkeye Pierce, Travis said he’s just “taking his own approach” to the role.

“I’m trying to do my best to just make it my own,” he said.

Mercury added that show provides a “great range” for all the actors.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to see the moments of great heroism and also the great frivolity,” he said. “There’s a lot going on all the time.”