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When Ken Kesey’s highly acclaimed novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” hit Broadway in 1963, some critics were not pleased.

So when Charlie Krebs, Lakeland University’s director of theater and speech, decided to stage “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” as Lakeland’s fall play, he took that decades-old criticism to heart.

“The play was panned for being inappropriate,” Krebs said. “We are taking great care to treat all of the characters, as well as mental illness, with great respect.”

Lakeland will present “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” on Nov. 9-12 at the Bradley Theatre on campus. Tickets are on sale in advance or at the box office on the nights or day of the show.

Show times are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is about a habitual criminal named Randle McMurphy, who agrees to a psychiatric evaluation in an asylum and ends up being committed. His battles with the oppressive, acerbic Nurse Ratched – and the patients’ reactions to this ongoing battle of wills – provides the storyline.

“I love this role, because I’m playing someone who doesn’t care about the rules of society, and that’s not me in real life at all,” said junior Zachery Mock, who plays the role of McMurphy. “It’s a great challenge, and a lot of fun.”

The play was converted into a 1975 movie that won five Academy Awards and launched Jack Nicholson (McMurphy) into superstardom.

“It’s a great, great play, and our students are really into it,” Krebs said, adding that the cast has worked so hard, it is already “off book” (meaning the actors have memorized their lines) earlier than any cast he’s directed at LU.“

And, our stagecraft crew has created unique and incredible scenery; we’re trying really off-the-wall things, which I’m very pleased about,” Krebs added.

Freshman Chloe Skibinski, who plays Nurse Ratched, said, “I love working with everyone in the cast. We’re all very close, and we’re having a great time.”

Among the interesting props will be dozens of pillows dyed in various shades of gray; purple-hued lighting and an unusual “chandelier” created from shards of broken glass.

Before Thursday’s opening performance, Rick Dodgson, Lakeland’s associate professor of history and a national expert on Kesey, will talk to the crowd about his personal interaction with the late author. Dodgson wrote a book, “It’s all a Kind of Magic: The Young Ken Kesey,” after interviewing Kesey in Oregon on multiple occasions.

Following is the cast list for Lakeland’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”:

  • Nurse Ratched: Chloe Skibinski
  • Randle McMurphy: Zachery Mock
  • Chief Bromden: Zachary Petrowsky
  • Harding: Dustin Holmer
  • Billy: Megan Sullivan
  • Martini: Alyson Piper
  • Cheswick: Emily Sonntag
  • Scanlon: Melissa Reise
  • Ruckly: Alyssa Olsen
  • Candy: Abby Kelly
  • Sandra: Tegan Schneider
  • Nurse Flinn: Nicole Ziegler
  • Warren: Brad Fahley
  • Turkle: Shqipron Qunaj
  • Dr. Spivey: David Neese

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