In our sophomore and junior years in high school, Phil and I were in the drama club—and loved it! 1984 was our junior year, and we put on a production of M*A*S*H. Phil was cast as Major Frank Burns. Among other ensemble roles I was the psychologist who assesses Captain Hawkeye Pierce. And our friend Chris Lisi played Hawkeye.
What great memories I have from this time. I loved going to practices, bonding with the other students in the cast and having a legitimate reason to be a ham.
In the bottom photo, though it’s a bit hard to see, Hawkeye and I are center stage going through my interview so I can determine whether he is “mentally unbalanced,” as he claims to be. The funny story behind this scene is that one night while practicing it, Chris—who was a real cut-up—started messing around with me because I was in a bad mood (don’t remember the reason, and really, what teenage girl needs one?). There was a point in the scene where he is supposed to try to convince me that he’s a bit crazy by chasing me around the trunk that we’re sitting on. Well, halfway through my run I turned around and saw Chris pretending to grab at me. I was in no mood, so I slapped his face! Wow, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever slapped anyone’s face before or since. It got weird.
I immediately felt bad about it, but our director, Mr. Geiss, loved it! He directed me to add it to the scene. Umm, slap Chris Lisi a few times each night in practice and then on stage in front of an audience on show nights? Yes sir! Of course, Chris loved it too. Anything to make the scene get a bigger laugh was A-OK by him.
So he chased, and I ran and slapped . . . for another month or so of practices. Yes, it was therapeutic. I remember telling him that I was going to wear brass knuckles during the real performance, and he dared me to do it. What a funny git.
But the best part of this story is the ending. On the night of our performance, when it was time to do this scene, everything went as it should. I shrieked and jumped up to start running circles around the trunk. Chris/Hawkeye gave chase. Then I turned to administer “the slap” and it sounded like a clap of THUNDER. It was awesome. I must have cupped my hand more than usual because I had never gotten sound out of Chris’ face like that before. The audience gasped, then laughed. Even the look of surprise on Chris’ face was genuine. Now that’s good theater.