The Windham Center Stage Theater has always provided quality big city stage presentations with a local flavor. This past Sunday that tradition continued with their production of the classic, if not iconic “One Flew over the Cuckoos’ Nest”. On this, the same day when the 74th Golden Globes were handed out, Maine actors had their own shining moments as they wowed a crowd of 51 inside the town hall gymnasium which had been nicely set up with tables and chairs rather than the usual in-line seating.
Director Rob Juregens, who served on the WCST board for several years, couldn’t resist adding one of his favorite plays to his growing resume. His return was by choice and clearly welcomed. “It has been a couple of years since my last time here at this venue. High school commitments put me in a place so I couldn’t do this as much so I had left the board, but they asked me to do this and I was happy to do it,” shared Juregens.
This 1975 Tony Award winning comedy-drama is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey. The setting for this production is the dayroom within a ward of a state mental hospital. In all, 16 cast members paraded the stage delivering the lines and mannerisms with every enthusiasm and dedication to their roles. This incited much laughter and much applause.
Having been the third of six planned performances, Juregens was also pleased, especially with the turnout. It started opening night. “Opening night was amazing! The cast was awesome; they did a really good job. We had 80 plus in attendance,” he said. For a stage play this is huge. “Stage plays don’t typically do as well. People love to go to musicals, they feel good, sing and dance and everything so it requires a bit more commitment on their part to go to a stage show. We’ve been really pleased by the attendance,” he continued.
Producer Dawn Sample was also impressed. “We had around 51 in the audience and for all three shows, for the whole weekend, about 200 so a great turnout to date. We hope to beat it next weekend.” This despite limited rehearsal time due to scheduling conflicts in obtaining the gym and the fact that some of the cast were new to the theater.
One of those was Radio Shacks own Neil Esposito who played Ruckly. “I’ve never done this before. My girl friend Sherry Ragone, who plays nurse Ratched, said that they needed a stand-in to play Ruckly so I said I’ll do it. After the first time, it became more of a permanent thing. It was fun.”
Also new, was Melissa Allen who played young prostitute Candy Starr. “I did some acting as a kid, a long time ago back in the 90’s for children’s theater. I got away from it, a hiatus,” she said laughingly. When not on the stage she could be found up in the sound and light booth helping with effects; something she had never done. “My scenes on stage are short so I have time in between, so I am able to do both and try it out,” she continued.
Handling the lights was first timer Paul Duperre. “I have never done this before so I went on line to download a user manual for the light board. I basically learned on the fly and figured the rest out during rehearsals.”
Two acts and as many hours later, Sample again shared her impression of the shows so far. “Every show’s different, they are picking up speed,” she said. As for tonight’s performance, “There are always things that are different. They’ve got it down now. It’s fun.”
Juregens also had final comments “I thought it went great. I thought every cast member has a well developed character on stage; they are all different and unique. And they’re having a blast because of course, they get to act crazy on stage and who doesn’t want o do that?”
“One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. and the recommended age is 16+ due to strong language and adult content.