Review: 'ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST' at Theatre of North Texas

 Angela Newby

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the breakout production of Theatre of North Texas. The theater has many talented and experienced people working with them and produced an amazing show! 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest first premiered on Broadway on November 12, 1963 and ran until January 25, 1964, and starred Kirk Douglas as McMurphy. The play has since had two revivals, an off-Broadway in 1971, featuring Danny Devito as Martini, and then a Broadway production in 2001 with Gary Sinise as McMurphy. The film version was released in 1975 and was based on the novel, not the play. 

Director Dennis Canright did a marvelous job bringing this play to life. From the cast to crew, everything worked in sync with one another and the outcome was absolutely fantastic. 

 One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - Leslie Boren (UrbanPhotography)

 One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - Leslie Boren (UrbanPhotography)

Dennis Canright and Jason Leyva’s set design and Ellen Shaddock’s properties worked in sync to set the time period and location, and support the elements of the play. While the set was fairly basic, a stark white institution, the attention to detail was exactly what was needed to show the clinic feel of the play without being outright about it. 

Branson White’s lighting design was spotless and uncomplicated. Through the simplicity of using full lights or a single spotlight, White was able to completely change the dynamic of the room with a single flip of the switch. It was in the single spotlights that the audience was able to relate to the characters, and then was quickly transitioned to the next scene in the play. White did a remarkable job with lighting that only enhanced the show. 

Nita Cadenhead made wise choices with her costuming for the show, fitting her design in perfectly with the time period that the play was set in. I especially loved the crisp clean white uniforms of the hospital staff. The patients’ costumes were each based on beige scrubs, and then embellished for each character through a different shirt on top of it, a bathrobe, or even a hospital gown. Cadenhead’s costumes successfully created the depth of the characters to aid the story. 

Sound design by Joshua Hahlen and Dennis Canright was phenomenal. Hahlen and Canright developed a sound design that will give you chills, and then have your heart racing. It was thorough and every second of the show was perfectly timed to create an outstanding result. This show was only enriched through this creative duo. 

Playing Chief Bromden, R. Andrew Aguilar was the epitome of a mental institution patient. Aguilar’s use of heavy feet, crossed arms, silent blank stare, and his grasping as his shirt sleeves all allowed for the audience to see one part of his duel personality character. Yet it was when Chief Bromden comes to life that Aguilar’s talent was truly displayed. His powerful speaking voice with an edge of shakiness allowed for the passion to flow over the audience. Aguilar did such an amazing job of displaying these two personalities that there was never a question of what state of mind Chief was in. 

Leslie Boren played Nurse Ratched and was the head nurse of the institution. Boren’s steely gaze and perfect posture only enhanced her characters no-nonsense ways. Though it was Boren’s perfectly paced speech with her tone that showed the depth of her knowledge of her character. Her proper demeanor and facial expressions never faltered and she was always on point, which only showed the strength of Boren as an actress. 

Randle McMurphy, played by Jeff Burleson, was emotional and moving. Burleson easily had down the cocky McMurphy with his swagger and hands in his pockets. However, Burleson’s used a wavering voice and keen eyes showed the depth of who McMurhpy was as he interacted with Chief. These multiple facets of McMurhpy were easily distinguished through the mannerism and vocal inflection of Burleson which only made the show that much better. 

Steve Cave as Dale Harding was the voluntarily committed patient that holds a degree of order over the other patients. Cave’s vocal inflections were superb. His purposeful steps and dignified mannerisms heightened his characters calm demeanor. Cheswick, played by Shawn Gann was the nervous patient that tried to be everyone’s friend. Gann’s frantic movements and squeaky voice coupled with his wringing hands perfectly portrayed this. This was enriched only through his pulling at this hair, and wide eyes. 

Billy Bibbit was played by Zachary Leyva a young man who has mother issues. Leyva was able to nail Billy’s personality through his downward looks, and soft deep vocals with a stutter. Yet, Leyva was also able to show his character’s brighter side with his jovial smile, bright eyes, and puffed out chest. Martini was played by Danny Macchietto. Macchietto’s high pitched voice and rapid movements were equally shown with his reserved manners that showed the dichotomy of his character. Macchietto’s nervous gestures were spot-on. 

Harry Liston as Scanlon was a dry character. Liston revealed this through his dry laughs, even-toned speech, and facial expressions, such as rolling his eyes. George Spelvin as Ruckley was care-free and that was displayed through his fluid movements and loopy grins. It is Spelvin’s non-verbal acting that truly exhibited his characters diminished functionality.

The professional staff is rounded out with Dr. Spivey played by Derek Lorin and Nurse Flinn by Hillary Brainerd. Lorin played this doctor perfectly with his professional mannerism and confident vocal inflections. Brainerd portrayed her skittish nurse through her flurried movements and quick paced vocals. 

Eduardo Serna, Jonathon Huggins, and Kwame Lilly are the three Aides in the institution. Serna and Huggins use of laughter and wide grins only boosted the joy that their characters had in their job. It was when they had to be forceful that Serna and Huggins were able to show the depth of their skills with red faces, breathy vocals, and rushed movements. Lilly was the night aide that helps McMurhpy and the patients in a late night party. The aide’s laid back personality was shown through Lily’s slow paced speech, and easy movements.

Monalisa Amidar as Candy Starr along with Katy Pearce Hill as Sandra were the two party goers that McMurphy brings into the institution. Amidar and Hill are perfectly cast as the party girls evident through their energetic smiles, slurred speech, and wobbly steps. 

Theatre of North Texas opened their first season with a strong production that makes me look forward to what’s coming up next. I highly recommend this show as an excellent piece of theater which will leave you feeling more compassion for those that you meet in your life.


Theatre of North Texas
2535 Valley View Lane
Dallas, TX 75234

Runs through June 28th 

Friday-Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 2:30 pm.

Tickets are $12.00 for adults, and $10.00 for children. 

For information and to purchase tickets, go or call the box office at 817-380-5456.

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