You got through high school your way, I got through high school my way.

I had done a couple of plays in eighth grade: Tish, “a screaming romp that audiences will cheer” (according to the Samuel French catalog) and good old Life With Father. I didn’t know anything about playing actions or finding moments. I just sort of leaned into the wind and took off. Well, it felt like flying, anyway.

In ninth grade, I tried out for the Viking Masquers, North Shore High’s musical comedy squad helmed by Mr. Bruce R. Mooney.

Mr. Mooney

My audition piece was a lift from the remarkable Orson Bean: a rhyme-free a cappella item called “A 1959 American Folk Song”. I got laughs. I got in. Thanks, Orson.

We did a lot of stuff under the Viking Masquers’ banner—musicals, dramas, comedies, revues—as well as with Mr. Mooney’s Summer Theater Workshop. That’s where things really took root: without the distracting classes and academic pressures of high school proper, I began to see all this as more than just a good time. I felt I might be glimpsing my future.

The literal meaning of nostalgia is “the pain of remembering”. I painlessly post the text above and the pix below because they tickle me. I hope they do the same for you.

Sheriff Pike gets the drop on an obvious trouble maker in Tish. Laurie Small, Roxane Reid
The Day family, Life With Father
One of these dudes is a murderer! Surely not Mr. Blore (center). With Bruce DeMilt, Paul Kelly, Richard Canaday & David Halperin, Ten Little Indians
The Glass Menagerie 
Best & McKean cracking The Great Train Robbery from Beyond the Fringe
Curiosity is born in The Hasty Heart
With the late Bruce DeMilt, one brushes up one’s Shakespeare (Kiss Me Kate)
Drummond (Bruce Meigel) meets Hornbeck in Inherit the Wind
Inherit the Wind: the cast takes a bow (Photo: Roy Ten Haagen)
The guys just love Phyllis Hohenrath as Little Mary Sunshine
Jailor McKean and Chris Weeks dance “The Pickpocket Tango” in Redhead
Grumpy old man at 16. From Little Me with Jeanine Marien
Acting up a storm in J.B.
The Physicists: I abandoned the hairstyle after this. World wasn’t ready.
I was a teenage king. Richard II. Guy just left of me went pro as Alec Murdock

I remember all these days and nights vividly from the inside. It’s nice to have the pics to see what it looked like from without.

I’ll post more of these as I continue to rummage. And hey, I wasn’t the only one who kept his high school play pics, right? Whether or not you went professional, get ’em out and let’s have a look at ’em: post via Twitter @MJMcKean.



6 thoughts

  1. Really love the photos and the memories Mike. Each photo brings back vivid memories. Those were the days, my friend!!


  2. These bring back great memories, Mike. Thanks for sharing. Trying out for Viking Masquers was scary. Thanks to Mr Mooney for all he taught us about theater, performing and stage work. He’s the best!


  3. HI Mike – Thanks for the wonderful pics! Loved being in the pit for the musicals…great fun!
    My Mom (NSHS English teacher) told me she always new you’d be a success….you essays were wonderful.
    Take good care.


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