Spectrum makes big splash in Rhode Island's theatre scene

‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ compelling production

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Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, the neurodiverse theatre company that provides a unique, collaborative venue that engages audiences and artists, is presenting its first fully-mounted production at Wilbury Theatre’s space in Olneyville. And it’s a winner!

The cast consists of a melding of familiar local actors with the neurodiverse community (Asberger’s/Tourett’s/ADHD/OCD/ASD).

“Neurodiverse” is a new word for me, and I learned that people with autism spectrum disorders are subject to loud noises, bright lights, touch and other diversions. Audience members in that group are provided with a list of scenes that may be disturbing, with a red light flashing briefly to warn them.

On Saturday night, the cast performed through some occasionally loud music at a party next door and a loud, intense rainstorm pounding on the roof above, never missing a line.

You may remember the story from the classic Jack Nicholson movie. McMurphy (Providence-based actor Teddy Lytle) avoids prison by pretending to be crazy and is sent to a mental institution, where he rebels against horrible conditions and treatments, working to get the traumatized patients to rebel with him. It turns into a one-on-one battle between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched (Llocal actress and founding member of STE Madison Frances Weinhoffer).

Both Lytle and Weinhoffer are terrific actors, carrying the heavy load and working smoothly and professionally with the rest of the more than two dozen cast members. Max Ponticelli has given them a realistic steel structure to work around, while a crew of behind-the-scenes people make it all happen.

Spectrum has chosen a challenging play, requiring not only the memorization of many lines but lots of movement, scene changes and action. Every member of the large cast succeeds in presenting their character realistically and with emotion.

Welcome to the newest member of Rhode Island’s growing theatre community!

Tickets have been in such demand that Spectrum has extended its run through August 31. For tickets go on spectrumtheatreensemble@gmail.org.

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