In 1963, when Kirk Douglas first walked onto Broadway’s Cort Theater stage to play lovable rogue Randall P. McMurphy in the new play “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, stage-center orchestra seats were considered some of the most expensive ever seen on the Great White Way.
Those top-flight tix went for the then towering price of five dollars. No kidding. Damn near an entire day’s wages back then.
Playwright/Actor/Director Bob Bowersox and his TheatreXP – producers of Key West’s now iconic Summer Stage events every July – were looking for a way to say thank you for the seven years of support theater lovers have given Summer Stage since its inception in 2011. They also knew they wanted “Cuckoo’s Nest” as their mainstage event this year.
“When we saw the 1963 price during our research on the play, we immediately said, ‘We have to do that! Let’s take it all back to 1963, including the price!’”, said Bowersox.
Which is exactly what they’ve done. As unbelievable as it sounds, all reserved seats for Summer Stage’s opening production of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” will be at the 1963 price of only $5.00. You read that right…all seats, all 15 performances…$5.00 each. All one has to do is call to reserve before the Opening Night of July 5th. The show runs Wednesday through Sunday nights through July 23.
“A lot of theater angels underwrote the entire season for us, allowing us to do this,” Bowersox said. “They believed in our concept of making theater more affordable, and they really stepped up. Blake Hunter, Chris Elwell, Martha Robinson, Roy Bishop, Paula and Colin Cabot, Richard Hatch – these are the people to thank for your five dollar ticket to a great production.”
And quite a production it will be, with a cast of 12 marshalled by a Chicago director with credits from some of the top theaters in the country. Starring as Randall McMurphy will be Ross Pipkin, who has been seen in such stellar Key West productions as “The Cripple of Inishmaan”, “Waiting For Godot”, “Dinner”, and “Person Of Interest”. His arch-nemesis, Nurse Ratched, will be played by Melody G. Moore, who has distinguished herself in a number of recent shows, including “Love, Loss, and What I Wore”, “Person of Interest”, “The Poetry of Hearts”, “The Return”, and “The Apple Falls”.
Supporting these two are a mix of the area’s favorite actors and new faces: Erica Lee Bigelow (Nurse Flinn), Phillip Cole White (Billy Bibbit), Jeremy P. Hyatt (Martini), Matt Hollis Hulsey (Williams), Tony Konrath (Dr. Spivey), Mathias Maloff (Turkle), John McDonald (Cheswick), Lisa Elena Monda (Candy), L. John Van Norden (Ruckly), Karl M. Stahl (Chief Bromden), and Bowersox himself (Harding).
Directing will be Patrick New, a Chicago native who has gold standard credits, including work at Steppenwolf, Goodman, Looking Glass, and Roundabout theaters, among many others. New and Bowersox met at a Shakespeare seminar two years ago, and have been looking for a project to do together ever since.
“Patrick brings a special perspective and level of real professional understanding to the work,” Bowersox said. “He digs deeper, finds the layers that make a production richer, more involving. This is going to be a great one.”
“Cuckoo’s Nest” revolves around Randall P. McMurphy, who contrives to get himself moved to a mental institution as a way of avoiding a prison work farm. But this turns out to be a mistake, as McMurphy immediately clashes with the head nurse, who wants to rule her ward with an iron fist disguised as a healing hand. But McMurphy does what the medical professionals haven’t been able to do for 12 years – he leads his fellow inmates out of introversion, makes a presumed deaf and dumb Native American talk, and arranges a rollicking midnight party for his new friends complete with liquor and chippies, helping to give them a sense of worth and independence. But his influence comes at a high price.
The “Cuckoo’s Nest” story is one of the most acclaimed of all time. Between the book, the movie, and the stage play, it has garnered nearly every award possible, including Tony, NY Critics Circle, Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, People’s Choice, Director’s Guild, and Grammy awards, among many others.
Tickets for “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and all other Summer Stage events (which include readings, another mainstage production, and a new event called “Twice Told Tales”) can be had by visiting redbarntheatre.com/tickets or calling 305-296-9911 or 302-540-6102. For more information, visit keywestsummerstage.com. Sponsored in part by Royal Furniture, Blue Heaven, KONKLife, The Grand Café, Design Group Key West, Digital Island Media, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, and the Anne McKee Artists Fund.