By Samantha Calderone
March 31, 1977
The Second Story theater group flew to new heights by premiering “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in the WEJL radio theater on the fifth floor of the Scranton Times Building.
The free show, which ran from March 31 to April 2, revolved around main characters Randle Patrick McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. In order to avoid physical labor in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sentenced to a mental institution. There, McMurphy is both a witness to and subject of the nurse’s cruel actions.
Dunmore native and University of Scranton alumnus William “Bill” Risse played McMurphy. He also was one of the founders and chairman of Second Story. Risse went on to work with the NBC production team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Actress Gail Piasecki of Scranton played Nurse Ratched under the direction of Wilkes University alumna Agnes Cummings. Cummings was previously seen in Second Story’s production of “Godspell” and later performed in “A Cry of Players.”
After acting and directing for Second Story, Cummings went on to direct shows at University of Scranton. She later performed at the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Other local actors who appeared in “Cuckoo’s Nest” included Brian McGurl, Tee Malakin and Frank J. Graeff.
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Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast