Last weekend the Augusta High School Drama Department finally was able to produce its spring 2020 show — a production of M*A*S*H that was postponed last spring.
"When we went to lockdown last year we were set to put this on. That was right at spring break," said faculty sponsor Tim Laner.
Some of the conditions that led to the lock down have not changed much — COVID-19 infections continue to rise across the state of Kansas as the pandemic enters its ninth month.
That led to interesting challenges for the cast and crew of M*A*S*H as COVID-19 safety protocols had to be observed during practices.
"Having to rehearse with masks on was difficult, a lot of times the actors were muffled and it was hard to hear them. We had to work on articulation," Laner said.
There was also a need to be careful outside of practice — an outbreak could have closed down the production.
"We were hoping they all stayed safe and would not have to go into quarantine," Laner said. "We did have a couple of cast members that had to go into quarantine. They had to miss two weeks of practice. They were able to pick it up pretty quickly when they came back."
COVID-19 also resulted led to safety precautions for ticket holders. Some of those precautions were given a trial run during a school music concert in October.
"Limiting our audience, we marked off every other row. As people came in they had to do temperature checks, use hand sanitizer and wear masks," Laner said. "... I think as long as our numbers are low, I think that is what we will do here."
Laner said ticket sales were strong, and there was significant interest in the show.
As a result, the school made use of permission from the script company to do something the drama department had never done before — stream the performance online.
Viewers of the show could watch via Facebook live.
"That was for the people who were not able to see it. We also had permission from Dramatic Publishing to stream the show," Laner said. " ... Last spring they gave permission to schools to stream because of all the schools who were having to cancel."
Like many others, Laner and the cast have watched the television series in reruns and DVD recordings. Originally a movie, M*A*S*H was adapted for a television show that ran more than a decade.
The interest of audiences, and the interest of his high school cast, is what led Laner to select the script.
"I read the script last year and had several students who were interested. I usually base things on student interest," Laner said. "I had to find a show that had a large cast, and it had a large cast. I like the way the show flowed, and it had quirky moments. People who liked the series would have loved the play."
The plan is to return to the stage this spring with a musical — taking similar precautions for both cast and theater goers.
"If it gets bad and we get a big spike, if we go to online learning again, I think doing shows and concerts will be canceled again. I think it is a wait and see situation. Our plan is to do a musical. We’ll wait and see what happens."
General Hamilton Hartington Hammond-- Alex Schmidt
Pvt. Boone---Brayden McQueen
Lt. Colonel Henry Braymore Blake---Devin Russell-Unger
Captain Bridget McCarthy---Isabelle Kirpatrick
Lt. Janice Fury---Pashence Adkins
Sargeant Devine---Romello Odum
Lt. Louse Kimble---Jocelyn Means
Captain Frank Burns----Hayden Blair
Father John Patrick Mulcahy---Colin Goza
Captain Walter Waldowski (Walt)---Jaxon Williamson
Captain John McIntyre (Trapper John)---Michael Carter
Captain John Black (Ugly)---Gabe Wilson
Corporal Radar Reilly---Cody Wilson
Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce (Hawkeye)---Noah Rye
Captain Augustus Bedford Forest (Duke)---Owen Frizell
Pvt. Lopez--- Zaidan Ohlson
Korean Woman---Pashence Adkins
Lt. Nancy Phillips---Trinity Logan
Major Margaret Houlihan (Hot Lips)---Frankie Elliott
Congresswoman Goldfarb---Keirstin Stewart
Dean Mercy Lodge---Emma Neuschafer
MIss Randazzle---Keirstin Stewart
Lt. Connie Liebowitz--- Keirstin Stewart
Captain Oliver Wendell Jones (Spearchucker)---Hayden Blair
Major Ruth Haskell---Emma Neuschafer
Set Director: Megan Springs Assistant: Jennifer Wilson
Director: Tim Laner
Lighting/Sound: Clare Thompson