Over the past decade, as such Steppenwolfers as Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalf and John Mahoney have grown more and more famous, the average production at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company has contained precious few of the theatre's ensemble members.
Breaking that tradition is the troupe's upcoming stage version of Ken Kesey's novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” written by Dale Wasserman. As previously announced, Gary Sinise will star as McMurphy in the mental hospital drama, and Amy Morton as Nurse Ratched. (Both are members of the theatre, Sinise a founder). Now, joining the cast are K. Todd Freeman, Mariann Mayberry, and Rick Snyder. Terry Kinney directs, making for a total of a half dozen Steppenwolf ensemble members returning to the Nest.
The show will play April 6-June 18, officially opening April 16. Rounding out the cast are Sarah Chariper, Stephanie Childers, Jennifer Engstrom, Eric Johner, Leonard Kraft, Misha Kuznetsov, Ross Lehman, Bill Noble, Ron O.J. Parson, Tim Sampson, Warren Schueneman, Christian Stolte, Greg Vinkler, Danton Stone, Afram Bill Williams and John Watson, Sr.
Kinney, also a founder of the Chicago theatre, has previously directed A Streetcar Named Desire, A Clockwork Orange and ...And a Nightingale Sang. As an actor, he has starred in The Grapes of Wrath and Buried Child, both on Broadway.
Sinise directed the production of Buried Child in which Kinney starred, and acted opposite him in Grapes of Wrath as Tom Joad. In films, Sinise is currently represented in "Mission to Mars" and "Reindeer Games." Morton was seen on the New York stage recently in Tina Landau's Space at the Public Theater. At Steppenwolf, her credits include Three Days of Rain and The Berlin Circle, and, as director, Mizlansky/Zilinsky.
Snyder played Gene in Steppenwolf's recent staging of Side Man and Scrooge in the Goodman Theatre mounting of A Christmas Carol. Mayberry was seen in Hysteria and The Berlin Circle, both at Steppenwolf. Freeman, meanwhile, is best known for playing the title role in the Steppenwolf, and then Broadway, productions of The Song of Jacob Zulu.
The show will be presented at Steppenwolf by arrangement with Michael Leavitt and Fox Theatricals. From Chicago, it will travel to the BITE:00 Festival at the Barbican Centre in London. As for a possible transfer to Broadway in the 2000-01 season, a production spokesperson last year told PBOL, "It's our hope that will happen; Fox Theatricals owns the New York rights, and that's why we're with them."
Currently on Steppenwolf's main stage, Austin Pendleton, Martha Lavey and Rondi Reed star in Valparaiso, which began previews Feb. 3 and opened Feb. 13 for a run through March 26. Don DeLillo's exploration of one man's ordinary business trip to Valparaiso, IN, is directed by Frank Galati.
The rest of the Steppenenwolf season runs as follows:
• Patrick Marber's Closer (July 6-Aug. 27, 2000, opening July 16), with Abagail Deser directing. Closer's quartet of dysfunctional romantic partners were originally played on Broadway by Natasha Richardson, Anna Friel, Rubert Graves and Ciaran Hinds, under Marber's direction.
--By Robert Simonson