Thursday, April 1, 2010

Drama- Trauma Abounds with Laughs on Wayland-Cohocton Stage

         Wayland-Cohocton’s high school production of M.A.S.H. was held last Friday and Saturday nights under the direction of Richard Miller.
         On Friday night the auditorium was filled to near capacity with a combination of students and adults, and it was as close to perfection as you could get in an audience. They laughed and laughed in all the right places, but quickly transitioned into quiet thought during a couple of the more serious scenes in the play.
         It took about ten minutes into the fast- paced show for the actors to settle in and begin delivering their lines with all the punch each one deserved. Once they got over their stage jitters, each actor showed off his own capabilities extremely well.
         Yet it was quite obvious that all the actors liked entertaining, and could handle the tricky comedic timing to pull off the quick one-liners. The entire cast blended together as an ensemble, and you didn’t notice anyone sticking out trying to up-stage anyone else.
         The trio of Ben Robinson (Hawkeye), Paul Lysek (Duke) and Ken Mark (Blake) had some nifty interactions between them showcasing their strengths as experienced actors. They had the mannerisms down just right, too, including the arching of the eyebrows. How great it was to watch them in action!
         Eyes were drawn to Jon Kelly as Radar whenever he was on stage because he played through his role completely, and was not afraid to let go. He was the zany radar who put his ear to the ground and anticipated things ahead of time. Even when he was not speaking, Kelly kept in the scene. Incidentally, he showed that he has a decent singing voice, too. We need to keep a lookout for him in the future.
          All the M.A.S. H. nurses were particularly strong actors, notably Nicole Traphagen and Taylor Allison. Whether they were laughing or crying, it came natural.
         Jamie Roche’s beautiful, clear voice was commanding in the way she chose to portray Margaret Hoolighan. Roche ‘s Margaret was probably like the essence of a woman officer in the military during that time period.
         Rich Miller is to be commended in his debut as director, and hopefully we will get to see many more of his shows in years to come. It was quite obvious that he worked well with students, organized efficiently and earned student respect.
         There were a couple moments when the audience felt a lump in their throats, too, in between all the laughing. The scene where the team had to do surgery on their beloved Korean houseboy, Ho Jin, was short, and to the point, but it reminded the audience of the terrible pressures faced by the surgical team, and how competently they did their jobs.
         But, when the team was “off- duty” all sorts of fun was had by all, including the terrific scene with the “Mash rash”. Those nurses certainly got the best out of the unit, and each actor blossomed beautifully.
         The farewell scene when Hawkeye and Duke left the unit was plain sad, and you felt it in the whole audience until it was remarked, “ losing them is like losing pet raccoons,” and that joke broke up the tension in the unit’s goodbye.
         Those unseen people behind the scenes played their part, and thanks to teacher, Linda York, stage manager, it all worked smoothly. There was never a moment when the show dragged with slow scene changes, and the whole stage was used effectively. The set worked, and was kept to a minimum.
         Some of the performers will be in more plays in Wayland, others will move on to their professional studies in college, but for a couple months during the winter rookies and more experienced actors learned the art of presenting drama together.
         Like many people raised on a weekly dose of M.A.S. H., I was right there the whole evening. Congratulations to all!