‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ soars to great heights

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By Kirsten Laskey

In its production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Los Alamos Little Theatre reached high and aimed big and the local theater company should be proud of the results.

The cast and crew effectively wove drama, tragedy, laughter and hope into this production.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a play by Dale Wasserman, which is based on Ken Kesey’s novel, takes place in a mental hospital. When a new patient arrives at the institution, the established order and control in the hospital is questioned and challenged.

This seems like a hefty play to tackle, but the LALT came out shining in this endeavor.

There is no weak link in the cast. Everyone from Jeffrey Favorite as the rebel patient Randle P. McMurphy to Kathleen Kelly, who plays the tyrannical Nurse Ratched, really brings the characters to life.

John Gustafson, Patrick MacDonald, Todd Graves, Fred Berl, Jim Sicilian and James Jenkins, who portray the several mental patients, really pull off making their characters interesting and likeable rather than ridiculous or silly.

Nicholas X. Gurrola-Gal is excellent as Chief Bromden. It is wonderful to see how he transforms his character from a silent, rather defeated man to someone with courage and strength.

Favorite is perfect as the rambunctious McMurphy who pushes the boundaries on the order and operation of the mental hospital. While Favorite is great at displaying McMurphy’s crazy, lustful ways, he also effectively portrays the character’s other side, which is caring and protective of his fellow residents.

The actors of the hospital staff are great, too. Russ Hopper has a lot range as an actor. He went from playing a humorous drunk in “Ten Nights in Bar Room” to the intimidating aide Warren in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Alice Corrigan provides a lot of humor as Nurse Flinn, who is uptight at the beginning of the play, but loosens up considerably by the end. Aide Turkle (Dick Cooper) also brings a lot of laughs as he sneaks sips from a liquor bottle during his rounds.

The real star of the show is Kelly. Her Nurse Ratched clutches control in ruthless ways. I love her small, sinister smiles or when her calm demeanor cracks and her anger spills out. Kelly is so good you will just love to hate her character.

Even Dr. Spivey, played wonderfully by Pat Beck, is no match for Ratched.

In contrast to Nurse Ratched, Roxanne Tapia as Candy Starr shows wonderful warmth and affection.

Ethan Kellogg and Ellen Kress deserve special recognition, too. These high school actors have appeared in many Olions Thespian Club’s productions and they prove they have the acting chops to appear in adult plays, as well.

The actors are not the only contributors to the success of the play. Richard Wasilewski created the best set design I’ve ever seen in a LALT production.  The amount of detail in this set is incredible. It has everything from a pharmacy filled with pills to a recreation room complete with bulletin boards and magazine racks.

The sound design by Dave Schiferl and lighting design by Ken Milder also added a lot of quality to the play.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is the last production for director Elizabeth Price before she and her husband move out of state and I don’t think she could have made a better final show.

See “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as at 2 p.m. Sunday. The show will continue at 7:30 p.m. April 3 and 4 at the Los Alamos Little Theatre.

Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors.