by Rick Langenberg:
Act now as tickets are going fast for the Wednesday, Dec. 5 debut showing of “One Flew Over the Chicken Coop” in the Woodland Park City Council Chambers, starring many local celebrities.
With the help of the city’s ticket agents, TMJ (The Mountain Jackpot) and Charles Chambers Theatrical Productions, a few seats are still available for a discounted price of $50 a person. According to preliminary TMJ reports, this could rank as the theatrical deal of the year, prior to the company’s national tour. Showtime is at 7 p.m. sharp. Besides the show, the city may reach a grand finale with its infamous “Chicken Law.”
Credit card payments are accepted and “Chicken Coop” theater-goers will have their choice of a steak dinner or fish filet, along with a bucket of chicken feathers to hurl at various performers and city elected leaders and head officials. This must-see performance represents a “Colorado high country” version of the Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) classic novel that became a Broadway sensation in the 1960s and then was turned into a blockbuster film that garnered five Academy awards, starring Jack Nicholson.
But with the recent controversy surrounding the “Chicken Law” in the royal Woodland Park Kingdom, those earlier awards and stellar reviews may just scratch the surface for preliminary expectations regarding the show’s revival. The earlier fame and controversy of the former “Cuckoo’s Nest” may easily be put to rest. After all, the earlier book and subsequent play and movie were prompted by the social changes occurring in the 1960s and early 1970s.
The newest version focuses on some of the local bureaucratic struggles for a Colorado mountain community in the post-2010 world, such as setting a record for compiling new laws and writing an ordinance for every possible situation a local citizen may confront in our town. Not surprisingly, plenty of feathers will fly across the council chambers. “The potential is endless,” said Mel Moser, who was recently hired by Chambers as the company’s new theater consultant. “Based on previous performances I have seen from tapes of earlier Woodland Park meetings, there is a definitive role for every member of the WP City Council. I have never seen this kind of talent, even in doing hundreds of shows in Cripple Creek. As much as I hate to admit it, the Cripple Creek council members are going to have to improve their entertainment performances. They are falling behind the high theatrical curve that Dan Baader (former Cripple Creek Mayor) once established. Woodland Park, especially with its evolving DDA (Downtown Development Authority) group, has leaped way ahead of them.”
or entertainment novices, Moser is one of the leading performers and founders of the Thin Air Theatre Company, which has brought award-winning shows to the Butte Theater.
With holiday shows bombarding Teller County, the Pikes Peak and Front Range region this season, the city of Woodland Park is joining the theatrical bandwagon in grandiose style. And while some may have grumbled over the city’s attempts at frustrating elected leaders and other rational folks over enacting a new law that deals with the handling and owning of chickens, few realize these antics were part of way to generate more entertainment revenue for city hall.
Apparently, city officials are getting the last laugh, with many government observers, including journalists from the TMJ, seriously thinking the town would spend 35 hours discussing a new chicken ordinance. Obviously, this was some type of a prank. They definitely fooled this writer. Now, the truth is out. City hall plans to turn their regular council meetings, along with their DDA sessions, into regular entertainment shows with paid admission required. According to sources, a regular $500 theater package is under consideration. This includes 15 shows at the royal council chambers, a person’s choice of drinks, special gourmet meals, unlimited popcorn, t-shirts and more. For $700, the package includes regular council entertainment and DDA shows for the entire year.
Although details are still getting finalized, the Dec. 5 cast for “One Flew Over the Chicken Coop” features WP Councilman Gary Brovetto as Randle P. McMurpie, City Manager David Buttery as a male version of Nurse Ratche, Former Councilman and Planning Commissioner Jon DeVaux as Dr. Spivvey, Councilman John Schaffer as Chief Broden, Bob Carlsen as Patient Chezwick, Eric Smith as Patient Hardding, Councilman Terry Harrison as Patient Scenlan and Mayor Dave Turley as John Peacemaker, a new character who never quite appeared in the original story. The rest of the city council will definitely play patients inside the Chicken Coop Nuthouse.
Already, Moser has given assurances to the Ken Kesey family that this particular performance will stay true to the theme of the original book. This was one of the major complaints made by the late Ken Kesey regarding the movie version of his 1962 novel. According to the recent “Magic Trip” documentary, Kesey contended that he never saw the “Cuckoo’s Nest” movie because the film script authors refused to use the Chief as the main narrator (the main focus of the book), and instead, turned his story into more of a dramatic soap opera between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched.
But the TMJ and Charles Chambers Theatrical Productions are sticklers about accuracy with dramatic productions and have vowed not to make the same mistake with “One Flew Over the Chicken Coop.” And this is just the beginning of the city’s new entertainment-based movement.
After the “Chicken Coop” show, the city will undoubtedly compile new ordinances regarding domestic cat invasions, dog discipline problems, the rooster disturbance epidemic, skunk and raccoon prevention codes and equestrian tolerance levels. Woodland Park may soon sprout with 3,000 pages of new rules governing a full realm of animal regulations and how these critters can be controlled. And with the new forthcoming rules for regulating recreational marijuana (add on another 500 pages), the time is ripe for more Woodland Park-sponsored theatrical shows.
Rumor has it that a group of acclaimed actors will play dejected band members of the former Grateful Dead band (who ironically once played for Ken Kesey in their early years), when the city imposes a permanent ban on future commercial sale outlets for cannabis. And Paul Kantner, the original co-founder of the Jefferson Airplane (regarded as the first pro-drug and counter culture band to get a major record contract), who played with various performers of the current and former Jefferson Starship band last summer at Stargazers Theater in Colorado Springs, is slated to do a protest tribute at Memorial Park sometime next spring. Tickets are available for $100. Make sure to call the TMJ today and order your tickets. And the citizens of Woodland Park never gave their head officials credit for ingenuity regarding mixing politics, bureaucratic insanity and entertainment together.
Stay tuned in this column for more Woodland Park entertainment updates.