Marin Theatre Company artistic director Lee Sankowich held auditions last week for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, to go up this fall, and 250 wannabe loons showed up to try out for roles -- including a few folks who had played in the original New York and San Francisco productions 25 years ago. Hope they know what they're in for -- Sankowich's modus operandi is to take the cast on a field trip to a mental ward, and he's had the misfortune of getting accidentally locked in to one on occasion. It's a tried-and-true technique, however: Sankowich's long-ago S.F. production of Dale Wasserman's stage adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel ran for five years and caught the attention of Kirk Douglas, who'd purchased rights to the book but had bungled a production on Broadway (gotta give the guy a break, though -- it opened the night after President Kennedy was shot). After seeing Sankowich's S.F. production, Kesey sent Douglas a telegram: "Get off your Hollywood ass and come to San Francisco to see how it should be done." So Douglas did, and that's how Sankowich ended up directing the second New York production, which ran for two-and-a-half years. Eventually, Douglas gave the rights to sonny-boy Michael, who produced the screen version with Jack Nicholson.
By Laura Jamison