The absolute last thing anyone would expect when they walk into the rehearsal for the upcoming Veg S.O.U.P. production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is singing and dancing, and yet, there was plenty of it.
Senior Sam White, who stars as Randle P. McMurphy, and freshman Dennis Caughlin, who plays Billy Bibbit, snapped their fingers as they sang to each other about their medications while senior Asav Vora, as Chief Bromden, proved to the rest of the inmates that he could really carry a tune.
Of course, “Cuckoo’s Nest” isn’t anywhere near a musical, and the finished product promises to be as darkly humorous and sad as its film and book versions.
“The West Side Story”-like singsong treatment is merely an exercise for the cast to loosen up and get to know each other and their characters under the watchful supervision of their director, junior Kimberly Olsen. Though, the fact that the improvised singing was pretty impressive really speaks volumes to cast’s talent and chemistry. Olsen jokingly remarked that the cast is “just as crazy as the characters.”
Despite the challenge of having no faculty funding or guidance, the crew seems to be doing well on its own. “We’ve been rehearsing every single day,” Olsen said. “There’s really been no breaks for anyone. But I think everyone has been enjoying it so much, it’s really become a labor of love.”
With daily three-hour rehearsal until the opening night on Feb. 14, the cast and crew have been working nonstop this semester.
“It’s really nice to see such dedication from every individual,” said junior Alicia Frame, who will play the role of Nurse Ratchett.
While the story of “Cuckoo’s Nest” is one of tragedy and mental illness, the story backstage is almost a kind of coming-of-age tale. Many of the show’s key figures are taking lead roles for the first time. Olsen is directing for the first time without the supervision of a professor, juniors Kate Mandracchia and Meg Sexton are stage managers for their first show and even White, the show’s lead, is new to the spotlight.
Though most of the characters are mentally unstable grown men, Olsen said that she and the cast wanted to portray an empathetic message.
“We want everyone to see that these characters are more like us than we think,” said Mandracchia. “But I just want people to have a good time and for it to be an interesting theatre experience.”
Olsen said that’s why she chose this show in the first place.
“I had seen the movie a long time ago, and there was something that had kind of resonated with me, the whole message of nonconformity,” she said.
“My other reason for choosing this play is that it draws upon the fact that I’m a special [education] major in addition to being a theatre major. I wanted a show that would combine both of my passions into one and portray mental disability in a ... positive way on stage.”
With a cohesive and passionate cast, great management and overall dedication to the show, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” promises to be fun and thought provoking. The show opens on Feb. 14 and will run until Feb. 16 in the Robert E. Sinclair Black Box Theatre.