One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (play)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1963) is a play based on Ken Kesey's 1962 novel of the same name.[1]

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Kirk Douglas and Joan Tetzel starring in the 1963 Broadway production
Written byDale Wasserman
Date premieredNovember 13, 1963 (1963-11-13)
Place premieredCort Theatre
New York City
Original languageEnglish
SubjectOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Ken Kesey


Dale Wasserman's stage adaptation, with music by Teiji Ito, made its Broadway preview on November 12, 1963, its premiere on November 13, and ran until January 25, 1964 for a total of one preview and 82 performances.[1] Since then, the play has had two revivals: first off-Broadway in 1971, directed by Lee Sankowich with Danny DeVito as Martini, then as a Broadway production in 2001 with Gary Sinise as McMurphy. The film version One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was released in 1975 was based on the novel, but not on the play.[2] DeVito reprised his stage role in the film.

The 1963–64 Broadway production starred Kirk Douglas as Randle Patrick McMurphy, Gene Wilder as Billy Bibbit, William Daniels as Harding, Ed Ames as "Chief" Bromden, and Joan Tetzel as Nurse Ratched. Douglas retained the rights to make a film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for a decade, but was unable to find a studio willing to make it with him. Eventually, he gave the rights to his son Michael, who succeeded in getting the film produced. At that time, Kirk Douglas was deemed too old for the role of McMurphy, and the role was given to Jack Nicholson.

In 1982 Greg Hersov directed a production at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Jonathan Hackett as Randle McMurphy, Linda Marlowe as Nurse Ratched and Tim McInnerny as Billy Bibbitt.

In April 1988, the Playhouse Theatre was the site for the first London production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The play was brought to the London stage by Cuckoo Productions, formed by Diane Hilton, Karin Parnaby, and Judy Kershaw. They raised £100,000 in 24 hours to bring the play to the London theatre.

In 2001, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company produced a Broadway revival, winning the Tony Award for Best Play Revival. This production was directed by Terry Kinney and starred Gary Sinise, Amy Morton, Tim Sampson, Eric Johner, and Ross Lehman.

In 2004, Guy Masterson and Nica Burns mounted a production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Christian Slater, Mackenzie Crook and Frances Barber and a cast of comedians including Owen O'Neill. Masterson famously resigned as director & co-producer just prior to opening citing "ill health" and the production was finally delivered by Terry Johnson and Tamara Harvey. The show was a huge box office hit and transferred to London's Gielgud Theatre where it ran for over 20 weeks. This production was itself revived in 2006 with Alex Kingston taking over the role of Nurse Ratched. It then toured the UK in 2007 with Shane Richie playing McMurphy and Sophie Ward Nurse Ratched.

A production of the play was staged by London's Tower Theatre Company 23–27 October 2012 Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate, London.[3]

Awards and nominations

2001 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2001 Tony Award Best Revival of a Play Won
Best Actor in a Play Gary Sinise Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Play Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Revival of a Play Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Production of a Revival Won

See also


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