Going Cuckoo

By Ettie Berneking
In Culture, Feature

St. Louis Actors Studio goes a little nuts for the movie star joining the cast of its June production.

 

[UPDATE, May 18, 2012] The St. Louis Actors’ Studio has canceled its production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the cancelation is due to deficient funding.

Ken Kesey’s iconic novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” comes to life on stage this June, bringing all the delusional, painful and mind-twisting antics of antihero Randle McMurphy to St. Louis.

Although Jack Nicholson will not be coming to town to play McMurphy, another famous face will join the St. Louis Actors’ Studio cast as the tyrannical Nurse Ratched. Academy Award-nominated actress Kathleen Quinlan will be in town for four weeks—including three weeks of rehearsals and one week of performances. Founder and Producing Director William Roth says the condensed timetable will require the cast “to get down and dirty with acting.”

Even with the glow of a Hollywood star lighting up the stage, the production remains true to the St. Louis Actors’ Studio’s mission of providing a stage for local talent. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is the first production in a new initiative by the group that brings A-List actors to town to perform alongside St. Louis actors. Roth says he was originally looking at booking Christian Slater for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” before Quinlan’s name came up.

This year marks the 50th anniversary for Kesey’s novel, adapted for the stage by Dale Wasserman. The 16-member cast will take the stage at the 1,400-seat Roberts Orpheum Theater Downtown. The theater will be a change from the intimate quarters of the company’s usual Gaslight Theatre, with its 100 seats and a stage that’s snug for eight cast members. The extra space will no doubt be put to good use by the crowd that will be drawn by Quinlan’s name on the bill.

Audience members will also appreciate the expanded legroom, as the story, with its crew of oddball characters, wasn’t originally written for close encounters. From electro-shock therapy to several failed escape attempts, the tortured souls inside this mental institution don’t always play well with others. Let’s just say that audiences are in for an exciting show.

 

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Kathleen Quinlan

Kathleen Quinlan

 

Photo credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

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