Anacortes Community Theatre is bringing together R.P. McMurphy, Nurse Ratched, Scanlon, Cheswick, Martini and the Chief for a production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a comedy-drama based on the beloved novel by Ken Kesey and adapted for the stage by Dale Wasserman.
Ratched oversees a strictly kept mental hospital ward where the rebelious and irreverent R.P. McMurphy ends up when he pretends to be psychotic to avoid prison time.
Played by husband and wife Philip Prud’homme and Michelle Stahl, McMurphy and Ratched clash as he riles and inspires the meek and submissive ward residents, and she tries to maintain order. The conflict goes from comical to deadly serious as they both refuse to back down and the patients are forced to take sides.
Director Billy Hendrix is a 19-year ACT veteran and has helmed other plays including “Annie,” “Off the Map” and “Barefoot in the Park.”
Hendrix said the stage version of the play differs in several key ways from the 1975 Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson.
He hopes his cast and crew can remake the classic story for folks in Anacortes.
“I told them whoever gets the part of McMurphy needs to dominate the stage when he first comes in, so the audience forgets about Nicholson,” he said.
Much of the story in the theatrical version, as in the book, is told through the eyes of Jim Weaver’s character, Chief Bromden, a hulking but timid American Indian patient who connects with and complements McMurphy.
Hendrix said the play is also more character driven in general.
“It’s more of an ensemble piece than a star-driven piece like the movie was,” he said.
The cast came together with some difficulty, but Hendrix said it’s a mix of familiar ACT performers and fresh faces.
“Everybody has their own unique character that comes through even when they don’t have lines,” Hendrix said. “Even the minor characters are really interesting.”
Tiana Smith, of Guemes Island, is playing Nurse Flinn in her first performance with ACT. Flinn is “the nice nurse,” she said.
When he’s not directing, Hendrix said his main ACT role is building sets. The craftsmanship shines through the ward day room, complete with muted green walls, a nurses’ station and card tables.
Theater students in the summer Class ACT program helped record sound effects that lend the drama an eerie sensation in some of the play’s climactic scenes.
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’
A comedy-drama based on Ken Kesey’s novel
Adapted for stage by Dale Wasserman
Directed by Billy Hendrix
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 28 - Oct. 20.
Rated: 13 and older
Jim Weaver as Chief Bromden, Todd Young as Aide Warren, Ryan Wells as Aide Williams, Michelle Stahl as Nurse Ratched, Tiana Smith as Nurse Flinn, Brian Hurst as Dale Harding, Andrew Pearce as Billy Bibbit, Raido McComas as Scanlon, Bob Hendrix as Cheswick, Adam Shipman as Martini, Michael Moore as Ruckley, Philip Prud’homme as R.P. McMurphy, David Picht as Dr. Spivey, John O’Neill as Mr. Turkle, Carla Hurst as Candy Star and Lydia Sadighmehr as Sandra.
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