BATH — The Morse High Bazaar, commonly known as MOHIBA, hits the stage this year with a returning director, big screens, a plethora of skits – George Burns and Gracie Allen, too.
A tradition since the 1920s, MOHIBA takes place at Morse’s Montgomery Theater at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, and Saturday, Nov. 21. Tickets for the variety show are $10 for the general public and $7 for seniors and students.
Back in the director’s chair this year after a three-year hiatus with Lanyard Theatre Company is Kevin O’Leary. He previously directed MOHIBA for five years.
“I missed it,” O’Leary, an English and drama teacher at Morse, said Tuesday. “I let it go because of Lanyard, and now I don’t have that on my back, so I can (return).”
This year’s theme is “Say Goodnight, MOHIBA,” a nod to Burns’ familiar “Say goodnight, Gracie” remark to Allen.
“We’re sort of having old-world radio stars teleported into a modern age hip-hop extravaganza, and they sort of navigate their way through a world that is familiar to them, and yet unfamiliar to them,” O’Leary said.
Catwalks will stretch 18 feet over the audience, and 15-foot tall screens on both sides of the stage will show what’s happening there for those in more distant rows, similar to a rock concert.
“You give the kids what they want,” O’Leary said. “They love all that stuff.”
Each of MOHIBA’s two acts is about 45 minutes, with a 20-minute intermission. Each act includes nine skits. Each class performs an act, as do the football, field hockey and lacrosse teams and individual students who sing or play guitar or classical piano.
Students Max Ater and Hannah Gabelmann will be the masters of ceremony.
“It’s a classic family show,” O’Leary said. “There’s something for everybody. It’s good, clean fun with a little bit of ribbing here and there, but it’s healthy ribbing. And God knows this country needs to laugh a little bit right now.”
He said MOHIBA is one of the oldest high school variety shows in the country, and that the only time it was ever cancelled was during World War II, “when (President) Franklin Delano Roosevelt, himself, called and asked us to cancel it, because of the blackouts. So we did.”
The show used to be held twice a year, in the spring and the fall, but now it is only held in the fall, O’Leary said.
Speaking to the lasting appeal MOHIBA, the director said, “This show is about the community. Because … with our rich traditions here, I would say 99 percent of the people who come went to this school.”
And those people experienced MOHIBA.
“It’s one of the fondest memories,” O’Leary said. “… It’s this amazing glue that just binds this entire community.”
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.