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March 7, 2018


 

The Cast Of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Part Three

This is the cast of Cuckoo’s Nest. (missing from picture, Nathan Strong and Cathy Williams)

Eighteen years ago Nathan Strong came to audition for The Pittsfield Players’ production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s nest and was cast in his very first show with the Players. This year, the 50th anniversary of The Pittsfield Players, Nathan returns to the set of Cuckoo’s Nest to prepare his retirement from stage. Every year in between Nathan has been a Pittsfield Players’ staple. Able to fit any role, his talent ranges from the dramatic to the the musical and everywhere in between. In that first rendition, Nathan played the role of Cheswick, now assumed by Marty Williams, this year he graduates to the role of Dr. Spivey, which he plays to a tee. His credibility as the mousy doctor wrapped around Ratched’s (Vicki Watson) finger is unnerving. Spivey himself is not out to rock the boat as he sails his way to retirement. It’s a pleasure to have Strong bookend his acting career with the Players in this show.

 

Speaking of taking a chance on a newbie; it’s always a little risky to bank a character on someone you’ve just met. You trust his resume and word of mouth. When Ken Berry came into the theatre for auditions he was a little late and we just threw him up on stage. The fit was Kismet. Ken Berry plays a convincing Dale Harding who is self-admitted to this psychiatric ward. Ken fitting himself among this veteran cast is much like McMurphy, played by Ernie Bass, fitting himself into the acute side of the day room. While the role has not been an easy one to learn, Ken pulls it off with the dexterity of a true “psychopathic sidekick.”

 

Ernie Bass reprises his role of R.P. McMurphy and just like his character Ernie breathes life into the rest of the characters around him. Both Bass’ and McMurphy’s energy is contagious with his boisterous laugh and obnoxious little ditties being belted out in every other scene, the rest of the crew can’t help but jump on board.  And just as contagious; when Bass’ McMurphy comes to a terrifying end on stage, the cast of characters around him fall into the hole that’s been left by their self appointed saviour.

 

One of those characters who fall under the spell cast by McMurphy is Chief Bromden, played by John Chinn. Chinn portrays the Native American Bromden who has convinced the others that he cannot hear or speak. Under this cover Bromden is able to spy on not only the others on the ward, but the staff as well but when McMurphy discovers the Chief’s secret, everything changes.  Where Bromden was once able to go about his routine unnoticed, McMurphy makes the mistake of reminding him what life really is, makes it out to be so gratifying, in fact, that Bromden cannot allow such a huge lover of life like McMurphy to waste one more moment locked up. 

 

Rounding out the cast are Elisha Griffin as Candy Starr, Beth Champagne as Sandy, Bob Tuttle as Aide Warren, Joel Dail as Aide Williams, Dick Colman as Aide Turkle, Cathy Williams as Nurse Flinn (and costumer) and Mike Towle as Ruckly. 

 

Griffin and Champagne play the party girls, Candy and Sandy, brought in by McMurphy (Bass) who uses them in hopes of saving his buddies on the ward. He thinks if he can throw a party and give the men a taste of the outside they may change their minds about their voluntary confinement, but just like the rest of McMurphy’s schemes, the party ends in disaster.

 

Cathy Williams as Nurse Flinn gives the day room of the institution the credibility of being the truly scary place that it is . When the well-oiled machine goes off track it’s usually the meek Flinn that is the brunt of the inmates and aides aggressions alike. They know she will scare easily and she knows they are capable of much worse than what they threaten. 

 

Ruckly played by Towle, though a minor character, is a catalyst to not only ground McMurphy’s wild demeanor but provides some comic relief in the otherwise heavy plot, that is if you have a twisted sense of humor.

 

Dail, Tuttle and Colman’s characters help move the plot along, deliberately filling out the gaps in Wasserman’s dialogue with allusions to Kessey’s original text. After all, it is these men who see all and know all. Though they are on the ward everyday, just like those who are committed or voluntary, they have elected to spend their time in this madhouse with only a meager salary, under the thumb of the big nurse, to keep it running like a well-oiled MACHINE.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest comes to the Scenic Theatre, Home of the Pittsfield Players as part of their 50th anniversary season, this weekend and next, March 9, 10 16, & 17, 2018. It is sponsored by The Iron Dragon of Pittsfield. Tickets are now available by ticketleap at www.pittsfieldplayers.com or by calling for reservations at (603) 435-8852.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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