If you have the opportunity to get to the Boston Center for the Arts this Saturday, do not miss the Boston Children's Theatre stunning production of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Executive Artistic Director Burgess Clark and Executive Director and Producer Toby Schine have made the bold choice to encourage the young performers to sink their teeth into some very mature and challenging subject matter with this play, which many of us know from Ken Kesey's novel and the iconic Oscar-winning film starring Jack Nicholson. The young cast, brilliantly directed by Burgess Clark, rose to the challenge in spectacular fashion. I felt like I was watching the next generation of fledgling actors stretch their wings, flee the safe haven of the nest of tradition children's theater fare, and take to the skies.
Scenic Designer Janie E. Howland has created a perfect set that sets just the right tone of institutional blandness and mind-numbing sterility. These effects are enhanced by the Lighting of Emily Bearce, Sound by Jesse Gibson and Costumes by Jez Insalaco.
The real genius of this production is the work that Director Clark pulls out of this amazing cast of young actors.
- Keith Robinson does not have the same bulk that Chief Bromden has in the film version of this story, but he presents a formidable and brooding presence. He is usually mute, so when he speaks, his words hit like a thunder clap.
- Teresa Gelsomini is chilling in the pivotal role of Nurse Ratched. As Ratched, she raises micromanagement to an art form. The tug of war between the Head Nurse and McMurphy is at the heart of the drama. Who is the crazy person here?
- Sam Mulcahy takes the iconic role of McMurphy and makes it his own. He takes the character on a tortuous arc. He initially takes boyish delight at getting Ratched's goat and getting the inmates to do his bidding. Then when he learns that this is not just a game, but that Nurse Ratched and the institution have real power over him, he shows terror and doubt. It is a powerful performance all the way through this tension-filled play.
- Owen Sherrin is excellent as the kind and feckless Dr. Spivey who allows himself to be swept aside by the tsunami that is Nurse Ratched and her vendetta against McMurphy and his insurrection.
- Christian Tasiopoulos is very believable as the patient who signed himself into the hospital voluntarily to deal with mother issues.
- Outstanding as the other patients are Miles Tardy as Billy Babbit, Rory Shaw as Scanlon, Kevin Paquette as Charles Cheswick, Alex Cox as Martini, Jake Wetmore as Ruckly, and Alex Strzemilowski as Ellis.
- Additional members of this large and excellent cast are Billy Jenkins, Chris Vega, Maggie Budzyna, Ally Antonelli, Ellis Hampton, Charlotte Wallace, Sarah Pollock, Isabella De Jesus, Dylan Kerr, Ruby Schran, and Hattie Mae Rich.