GOING CUCKOO: “I Done It, Harding” – Thoughts From My First Weekend on the Boards

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Well, I survived my first tech week and opening weekend. I didn’t fall on my face (well, actually during our final dress rehearsal preview I did fall through the seat of a chair just off stage but I’ve taken much bigger bumps on concrete floors during pro wrestling shows over the last 15 years so… no big deal) and I don’t think I totally stunk the joint out. No one threw tomatoes, anyway. And I had some fun doing it.

But I’ve learned that acting is hard work!

I hope that if nothing else my writing can now be better informed by this experience. Here’s some other thoughts I have about our show:

  • This is such an iconic film that I hope people can view it as a separate work apart from the movie.  Our McMurphy is certainly not Jack Nicholson (who is, really?) but he brings a fresh take to the material and its been fun developing the on stage relationship with he and Chief Bromden.  Some of our moments are subtle, so pay attention.
  • Chewing gum while wearing a wig can be a challenge, especially when one strand of the wig gets caught in the gum inside your mouth. Also, I’ve always liked Juicy Fruit so that part is a breeze.
  • I had never seen Ted Weil act before we started rehearsal and I am blown away more and more by him each time we run the show.  His breakdown scene where he orients McMurphy to the nature of Nurse Ratched is powerful and funny.  He’s good.
  • Speaking of Nurse Ratched, Angel Zachel is scary in her understated turn as the passive-aggressive control freak.  When she’s in character, she is as intimidating as any villain I’ve worked with in pro wrestling.  That’s a huge compliment.
  • Remembering where to stand when is hard enough, I can’t imagine if I had as many lines as everyone else how I’d be doing.  I am in awe of my fellow actors who can do this and make it look easy.
  • When watching a show, I want to be moved.  When being in a show that requires me to “act moved” I’m glad I have other actors who give me reason to feel. Billy Bibbit’s final scene stirs up tears inside me every time and I really try to hold on to them long enough to push them out during my final scene.  Again, this acting thing is hard, y’all.
  • Thank goodness for Tracy Schoster, our house manager and temporary first-weekend lighting tech.  She has given me so much encouragement and support since we started tech week than I could have ever asked for.  I can’t wait to see her on the stage again.
  • I know of at least 10 people coming tonight to support me and see the show.  You should probably buy your tickets in advance just to be on the safe side in case we sell out.  And I hope we do.

I hope you’ll come visit us in the ward this weekend of next.  It really is a classic American story and one that deserves to be relished.  I’m gonna give it my all again tonight and tomorrow (and next Friday and Saturday).  Come check it out!

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST runs through April 12th at Falcon Theatre in Newport, KY. Tickets are available here.

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