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Maplewood Richmond-Heights High School One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

By • Mar 8th, 2013 • Category: Cappies, Missouri

A convicted rapist fakes insanity to escape prison, but in turn, he must face deranged mental patients, a bloodthirsty nurse, and electroshock therapy. Maplewood Richmond-Heights’ High School theatre department recently took the audience on a chilling adventure back in time to a 1960′s mental hospital with their production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Based off the novel by Ken Kesey of the same name, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest made its Broadway début in November of 1963. After 82 performances, it closed, but has since been revived and was made into the highly acclaimed 1975 movie version that won several Academy Awards.

MRH’s production was anchored by the heavy dedication each actor showed by staying true to their character. Miguel Hernandez portrayed McMurphy with the perfect playful stubbornness that his character required. Each patient in the mental hospital had their own distinct personality and it was evident that each actor had explored their characters’ unique dispositions. John O’Keefe, who played Martini, fully committed to the physicality of his character’s illness, making his performance stand out amongst the rest. In contrast to many of the patients’ lively demeanors, Anna Wermuth played the somber Nurse Ratched, showcasing her unwavering cruelty. The onstage bonds that formed between the patients proved to be a major component in forming the complex power struggle between the patients and the staff.

Several other notable performances were given throughout the show. Zach Arias, who played Billy Bibbit, showed rapid and dynamic change as his character would undergo a wide spectrum of roller coaster emotions. Chrystopher Kluttz had the audience laughing with an incredibly humorous performance as the drunken guard, Mr. Turkle. Maxx Diebold, who played Chief Bromden, smoothly narrated the story from his point of view. One vivacious scene that called forth the majority of the cast had the patients dancing in plaid and checked lounge pants as Billy Bibbit (Arias) was married off to Candy Starr (Taylor Kennedy), leaving the audience cheering for more.

One of the most impressive aspects of MRH’s production was perhaps their scenery and props. The set pieces, designed by James Owens, were fully detailed and depicted (what I imagine to be) an extremely realistic looking mental hospital. Pill bottles, cards, and cigarettes decked the stage, further setting the scene of the slightly imbalanced crew. The lighting (Megan Hanak) also helped differentiate between certain focal points and perspectives. Dull paint and fenced off windows all added to the eerie atmosphere.

Maplewood Richmond-Heights High School opened the window to a community that existed behind bars under the governance of electroshock therapy and lobotomy. Supported by an incredible set, a cast of enthusiastic actors, and a blood-tingling story, the MRH Theatre Department brought to life the story of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

by Audrey Lipsmire of Northwest School District

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