When “M*A*S*H” opens on Thursday (Oct. 28) at McLaughlin Theatre in Redding, audiences will quickly discover that the production is far more than just a play.
Director Wade Riggs calls it an “event” that will include a host of elements, such as 1950s era newsreels, a full USO-style show with singing and dancing, catered food in the lobby, a vintage ambulance and more.
The performance will include 32 actors in a show with a production staff of 25.
Riggs is certainly in the middle of a whirlwind, but says he’s elated because the play combines talent from almost every performance group in far Northern California, including Riverfront Playhouse, The Dance Project, Shasta College, the Westside Performing Arts Company, and Redding City Musical Theater Company.
“We wanted to do an event-style show, something different than the average stage play,” Riggs said. “We’re bringing together people from all the theater groups. We’ve got someone from almost every single theater company in Northern California. I like to call it my theater superstars.”
In addition to the opening of “M*A*S*H,” the Shasta College production “The Minotaur’s Mother” concludes its run this weekend. Scroll down for a synopsis and more information about the production.
Well known because of the long-running television series, “M*A*S*H” is set during the Korean War and stands for “Mobile Army Surgery Hospital.” Originally a book by Robert Hooker, it was adapted into a successful film directed by Robert Altman, and a stage play adapted by Tim Kelly. The TV series ran from 1972 to 1983 and starred actors such as Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Mike Farrell, Jamie Farr and Gary Burghoff, now a resident in the Chico area. (Burghoff, as Corporal Radar O’Reilly, starred in both the film and television series.)
The performance begins at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) Oct. 28-30 and Nov. 4-5 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Oct. 31. The 600-seat McLaughlin Theatre is located at Sequoia Middle School (1805 Sequoia St.).
Produced by WE Multimedia and the Westside Performing Arts Company, the show is a fundraiser for Westside Performing Arts Company, an auxiliary of the Shasta County Arts Council.
The play will attempt to keep the audience engaged at all times with the use of a large multifaceted set with many different areas where the actors will perform. Lighting will indicate where the primary action is.
“It’s kind of like MTV theater; no matter where you’re looking there’s constantly things happening,” Riggs said. “The actors have to be listening carefully to what’s happening in the next area.”
Among the cast are north state veteran actors such as Russell Piette (Hawkeye Pierce), Victoria Graham (Hotlips Houlihan) and Samantha Clark (Captain Bridget McCarthy). To look at the entire cast, click here.
Riggs, who is directing for the first time, has performed in 10 plays in the past two years in the area.
“People have asked, ‘Aren’t you nervous?’ (to be directing such a big play),” Riggs said. “Well, seven of the cast members are award winning directors themselves and the thing is I’m smart enough to know what I don’t know. I think it all depends on the crew and bringing in the right cast. I’ve never worked with a group that was more focused. Every single person is very dedicated. They all check their egos at the door.”
For more information about the show, click here.
The Minotaur’s Mother
The Shasta College production “The Minotaur’s Mother” wraps up its run with performances at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday at the college’s theater.
Director Robert Soffian describes the production as an experimental performance piece that explores the themes behind the Greek myth of the Minotaur, its mother and the labyrinth.
“It’s strange, but it’s interesting,” Soffian said. “It’s kind of dreamy and it looks pretty. There are forty scenes, but it’s only 80 minutes. It’s like an interlaced dream with dramatic monologues, some dances, music.”
With art and scenery projected on a huge screen, there’s a lot going on visually, in addition to what the actors are doing. The majority of the production is student generated (including original writing by students), but also utilizes one of Soffian’s poems and several of his paintings flashed onto the screen.
The idea of the labyrinth and the Minotaur has represented themes, such as self-discovery, over the years. The interpretations of a variety of writers and painters (including Picasso and Pollock) have been incorporated into the production.
The performance attempts to investigate the various themes of the myth.
“It’s changing, that’s one of the interesting things,” Soffian said. “We’re learning what works and what doesn’t. So it will be different every night.”
Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. There is some strong language. Click here for more information.
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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