‘M*A*S*H’ star surprises El Toro High drama cast

LAKE FOREST – When the real life B.J. Hunnicut showed up at El Toro High’s opening night of the “MASH” production no one could believe it.

“We’ve never had anyone famous like that come to one of our productions,” Dan Blackley, the school’s drama teacher said. “It was the neatest experience.”

Mike Farrell, who played Capt. B.J. Hunnicut on the television series “M*A*S*H,” which ran from 1975 to 1983, showed up at the high school production Wednesday night. The show is being presented by about 50 students from El Toro High’s intermediate drama class. To prepare for the show, students researched the Korean War and reviewed clips from the TV show and the film. Farrell came at the invitation of one of the actor’s parents who had been acquainted with him years earlier.

El Toro High’s production plays Friday for the last time. The performance is at Charger Hall at El Toro High and starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and $6 for all others.

In an interview with the Register, Blackley, who has taught drama there for 11 years, talked about the experience and the school’s drama program.

Q. What was the most fun thing about Mike Farrell showing up?

A. It was a surprise, we didn’t know he was coming. To have someone here, from the most famous TV show ever, had the kids just star struck. He answered all the kids’ acting questions and he was gracious to give his time. The kids all wanted their scripts and programs signed. He was just the nicest person. He even remembered which student played which role. I was quite star struck myself. He looked just like B.J. Hunnicut. I recognized him immediately.

Q. Do you think it will change the students’ performance on the upcoming nights?

A. I don’t know. Every time you do a performance, no matter who is in the audience, you want it to be your best. One kid asked if Alan Alda would be coming.

Q. Did you have a favorite “M*A*S*H” episode?

A. There was one about a patient they were treating who they tried to stop from dying on Christmas Day. He died right before and Hawkeye moved the clock forward so his family wouldn’t associate Christmas with his death. Mike Farrell actually talked about that one when he was here. I’ve always loved the show because it had humor and seriousness.

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