Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Prince William Little Theatre One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

By • Oct 25th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Dale Wasserman
Prince William Little Theatre
Gregory Family Theatre, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas, VA
Through October 30th
2:10 with one intermission
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Reviewed October 22nd, 2011

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a drama by Dale Wasserman adapted from the novel by Ken Kesey. Randle R. McMurphy, about to be incarcerated again, decides instead to commit himself to a mental institution to get out of being sent to a work farm. However under the charge of Nurse Ratched and her select “children” McMurphy gets a lesson in cruelty that he will never forget. This was a dark show with some moments of levity, but many more moments of pain.

Randle R. McMurphy played by Colby Mills came into the ward with an attitude as big as Texas. Mills played the rule breaker well. He also had a softer side and was loyal to his fellow inmates. He was sometimes extremely frustrated by them, but was very willing to stand up when necessary. His biggest hurdle was in the head nurse, Nurse Ratched played forcefully by Alexia Poe. Poe played the character with a calm coolness that most people would consider frosty. She seemed to treat her “patients” like her children and even though they hated her, they knew no other way out. She could manipulate and twist the patients’ emotions. Poe and Mills were excellent sparring partners. They could stare each other down while freezing ice at the same time.

The other inmates all kept their characters throughout the performance. Chief Bromden’s (Rodrigo Pool) tics and apparent inability to hear or speak were extremely believable and added depth to his character. Pool made the Chief into a likeable fellow, despite his problems. Harding, the president of the residence council, played by Darren Marquardt, used hand gestures to make McMurphy laugh and accept it. Billy, the young man with the stuttering problem was played by Mike Rudden. His character seemed to be the most innocent and easily manipulated by Nurse Ratched. All of the residents made good use of performing various kinds of stage business when they did not have lines. Some like Ruckley played by Zachary D. Fletcher never had a line, but you were aware when he was on stage.

Set Designers Darrell Poe, Jarrett Baker, and Dave Warner came up with an interesting concept for the play. Making the playing area wide and narrow you had to be constantly moving to keep up with the action. The use of white walls and boxes for all of teh set pieces gave the ward’s day room a very sterile look. All of the staff was in white, while the patients wore color. The date for the show was somewhat unclear until the party girls (Sally Zatkoff and Nora Zanger) arrived. Costumer Leslie Ross made the 60’s come alive then. The boots, coats, and short dresses brought out the era. Lighting Designer Lanny Warkentein made use of color and mood with bright lights and moving lights, and soft lights to bring down the mood.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest featured a great cast with solid performances to make this a delightfully sad show. The show is not intended for children, with adult language and situations. Also note that after the matinee performance on Saturday the 22nd, a panel discussion was held discussing some of the mental health issues raised by the play.

Notes From The Director

Within Nurse Ratched’s ward are many stories. Many themes. Fear. Control. Rebellion. Camaraderie. Coming of age. Sacrifice. And of course….good versus evil. It is my sincere hope that you not simply enjoy tonight’s performance, but that you feel yourself transported onto Nurse Ratched’s ward. The evil we see here is one of the most frightening because it can be so difficult to recognize. Ken Kesey didn’t just give us an iconic character, he birthed a new archetype with Nurse Ratched: sweet, charming, darkly charming, darkly plotting, good intentioned, deeply manipulative, bright, sharp, cool, cunning, calm, controlled an controlling…From Star Trek to Harry potter-the evil that lurks behind a sweet and innocent exterior was out on the proverbial map by Mr. Kesey in the events you are about to witness. This evil Is not visible, just very well camouflaged. By the time you recognize it for what it is, chances are it’s already too late. Randle P. McMurphy has no idea what is in store for him. Do you?

My intention with the “tennis court” style seating was to bring the audience closer to the performance. To create a sense of deep intimacy, and to alter perspectives from what is expected. You may see actor’s backs. The goal here is to allow you, the audience, to be “flies on the wall” of Nurse Ratched’s ward. This is quite simply one of the most talented groups of people I’ve ever worked with, and they’ve poured themselves into this production.

Enjoy the show.

Darrell Poe, October 2011

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by Prince William Little Theatre


  • Nurse Ratched: Alexia Poe
  • Randle P. McMurphy
  • Chief Bromden: Rodrigo Pool
  • Harding: Darren Marquardt
  • Billy: Mike Rudden
  • Martini: Ian Wade
  • Cheswick: Clayton
  • Scanlon: Tony Turchiano
  • Ruckley: Zachary D. Fletcher
  • Dr. Spivey: Scott Olson
  • Nurse Flinn: Katherine Bisulca
  • Sandra: Nora Zanger
  • Candy Starr: Sally Zatkoff
  • Aide Warren: Jason Frye
  • Aide Williams: Anthony Carchetta
  • Aide Turkel: Sharif Folks


  • Director: Darrrell Poe
  • Producers: Darrell Poe, Sandra Schillinger, Cana Wade, Dave Warner
  • Stage Manager: Cana Wade
  • ASM, Sound design: Dave Warner
  • PWLT Board Liaison: Sandra Schillinger
  • Costume Design: Leslie Ross
  • Lighting Design: Lanny Warkentien
  • Properties: Chrissy Janoski
  • Set Design: Darrell Poe, Jarrett Baker, Dave Warner
  • Set Construction and Painting: Jarrett Baker, Dave Warner, Darrell Poe, Luke Anthony, Cana Wade, Guy Sandhusen, Anthony Carchetta, Katherine Bisulca, Alexia Poe, Lanny Warkentein, Colby Mills, Clayton
  • Publicity: Darrell Poe, Sandy Schillinger, Cana Wade, Dave Warner, Don Wilson
  • Running Crew: Cana Wade, Dave Warner, Becca Jackson, Chrissy janoski, Mysia Cole, Cat Salisbury

Disclaimer: Prince William Little Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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