From M*A*S*H To 42nd Street In The Park, With Loretta Swit

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There will be crazy good tapping going on at Miller Outdoor Theatre July 9-14 when another summer of free performances kicks off with the musical 42nd Street courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars -- at least that's what Loretta Swit promises.

Swit herself won't be doing any of the dancing. But the actress, known mostly for her Emmy-award-winning TV role as Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H, will be singing and delivering the lines of prima donna Dorothy Brock.

The story is set on Broadway in the Great Depression so it should have a certain resonance  today. Small town girl Peggy Sawyer (played by Shannon M. O"Bryan who has performed the role on Broadway and on the road) replaces the star on opening night. The musical includes "Lullaby of Broadway," "We're in the Money," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and "42nd Street."

"This is a prima donna with a heart," Swit says enthusiastically. "She has been in the business for a long time. The Depression makes for desperate characters."

"She's a diva. She deserves the star on her door. That's not a bad thing."


Swit says her Dorothy Brock character makes a series of misjudgments about other people's actions in the play. Eventually, she comes to reallize these mistakes and resolves them.

Swit says this is the first time she's taken on this particular role, but it isn't the first time she has sung in public or acted on stage. In fact, she began her career on stage and although she started in non-singing roles, she's had plenty of singing parts along the way of her lengthy career.

Swit was born in November 1937 which would make her 71 now. Asked how she gets along with younger members of the troupe, she says just fine, pointing out that she has "a wonderful ingenue who trips me and I break my ankle." They're so friendly off stage, that Swit says she has trouble sometimes remembering to yell at O'Bryan.

Asked if anyone ever calls her "Hot Lips," Swit says no -- but it's not that they don't remember her part from the series that ran from 1972 to 1983. "The series and the characters are so loved that more often than not it's 'Miss Swit' or 'Major Houlihan,"  she says.

Free performances of 42nd Street at Miller Outdoor  Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, will be every evening July 9-14 at 8:15 p.m. Free tickets for the covered seats are available on the day of the performance between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Miller Theatre Box Office. Any tickets remaining will be given out one hour before curtain. No tickets? Bring a blanket and enjoy the show from the theatre's lawn.  

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