At the time of the last extension announcement, Slater - who plays rebel RP McMurphy, a part immortalised by Jack Nicholson in Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning 1975 film - commented: “I'm having a great time in England. The show is so much fun for all of us in the cast that we are thrilled to continue with it to 2005.”
Cuckoo's Nest is set in a mental institution where the fierce Nurse Ratched rules over the patients in fear of the brutal treatment dealt out in the 'Shock-Shop'. Into this world walks McMurphy, a larger-than-life gambler who has faked psychosis in order to avoid the drudgery of a working prison. Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel was adapted for the stage by Dale Wasserman.
Currently, Slater is joined in the Cuckoo's Nest cast by Frances Barber as Nurse Ratched, Mackenzie Crook as Billy Bibbitt and Brendan Dempsey as Chief Bromden. The production also features five comics - Owen O'Neill, Ian Coppinger, Dave Johns, Gavin Robertson and Phil Nichol. Terry Johnson and Tamara Harvey assumed co-directors’ duties after the withdrawal of original director Guy Masterson ahead of the production’s initial dates at August’s Edinburgh Festival.
In addition to the new 2005 dates, the Cuckoo's Nest have scheduled a fifth late-night comedy event on 11 December 2004. It follows the success of four post-performance gigs on Saturdays in October and November (See News, 2 Oct 2004).
Meanwhile, at the Old Vic, the Christmas run of traditional family pantomime Aladdin has been extended by one day. The production – the second in the Old Vic Theatre Company’s inaugural season under artistic director Kevin Spacey – was due to run from 17 December 2004 to 22 January 2005. Two extra performances will now take place on Sunday 23 January.
In Sean Mathias’ production, Ian McKellen (pictured) makes his pantomime debut as Widow Twankey in a cast that also features Roger Allam, Maureen Lipman, Sam Kelly, Ramon Tikaram and, in the title role, Joe McFadden (See News, 6 Oct 2004).
- by Terri Paddock