November 13, 2010

Jersey Boys Toronto’s Dan Sullivan Shines in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’

November 13th, 2010

By Howard Tucker and Audrey Rockman, JBB Special Correspondents

On Sunday, November 7, we were awed by the production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the 99-year-old Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, CT on the beautiful Connecticut shoreline. The Playhouse consistently contracts talented stage veterans, and this season was no exception as its management signed Daniel Robert Sullivan, who played Tommy DeVito in “Jersey Boys.”

Dan, cast as the fun-loving RP McMurphy, absolutely mesmerized a packed audience, and he and the cast were deservedly rewarded with a standing ovation at the close. While he received admiration and true success in the worldwide megahit “Jersey Boys”, Dan embraced his new venue and role with genuine humility and appreciation.

As most of us know from the 1975 movie, the story is one of the individual (McMurphy) vs. the establishment. In a way, we are reminded of the recent elections with the “Tea Party” symbolizing the individual. McMurphy, unfortunately, did not experience the same outcome as the Tea Party.

Dan’s comedic talents and charisma in Act I were fully evident as he tries to avoid “hard labor” as a criminal serving a short sentence by being transferred to a mental institution in lieu of prison. His “innocent” pranks early on to irritate the inflexible, bossy Nurse Ratched were priceless. But Dan’s real acting allure comes alive in Act II as his McMurphy champions the positive life changes in the characters of Billy Bibbitt (Jonathan Fielding) and Chief Bromden (Solomon Landerman), whose portrayals themselves were rich with texture. The devastation and irony in the final scene with the Chief and McMurphy were shattering and unforgettable.

Andrea Maulella was fine as Nurse Ratched, as were Fielding and Landerman in their respective roles. The character of Candy (Bethany Fitzgerald) shone as well. Perhaps Maulella was even a little less malevolent and slightly more human than her movie counterpart Louise Fletcher, with Maulella showing in a way that she was just “doing her job” rather than intentionally acting out of pure evil. But while kudos also go to director Peter Lockyer, there was no question that the production belonged to Dan Sullivan, who, with the rest of the cast, received thunderous applause that didn’t want to stop!

This stage plot was largely the same as the movie’s with the exception of the fishing trip in the movie, which was the only scene out of the hospital, and in the opinion of many reviewers of the movie, didn’t work as well as the remainder of the movie. The entire stage show took place in the hospital.

The clear highlight of the afternoon was yet to come, however, as Dan received us at stage door with his wife Cara, the talented Emmy-nominated “Saturday Night Live” hairstylist. Both looked rested and relaxed; we were the stressed ones, still reeling from Dan’s marvelous acting.

If you can make it up to Ivoryton, CT (about a two-hour drive or train ride from NYC), it is absolutely well-worth the trip. The production runs until November 21.


  1. Way to go Dan. Happy to see you doing something else. Too bad its not in Toronto. We loved you in JB.

    Comment by Sharon Malette — November 13, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

  2. Loved the article…great job Audrey and Howard! I only wish I could have made the trip too. It sounds like this play is something not to miss. Great to see Dan doing so well!

    Comment by Carolyn — November 13, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

  3. [...] Jersey Boys Toronto’s Dan Sullivan Shines in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ [...]

    Pingback by Jersey Boys Blog Reviews Cuckoo’s Nest | The Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation Blog — November 13, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

  4. [...] Jersey Boys Toronto’s Dan Sullivan Shines in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ [...]

    Pingback by Jersey Boys Blog Reviews Cuckoo’s Nest | The Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation Blog — November 13, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

  5. I saw this production with Audrey and Howard, and I must add that this was one of the highlights of this past weekend. And it certainly showcased the talent of a former “Jersey Boys” actor! After seeing Dan Sullivan in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, I now understand Audrey’s phone call from her return trip from Toronto and why she raved about the actor who played Tommy DeVito. As aptly stated above, this was an excellent production overall, but truly Dan’s performance stood out. As riveting as he was when his character took center stage, I was also aware of how he seemed to embody the role even in the quiet moments of the play. Well worth the picturesque drive through the New England countryside, I encourage those nearby to see this play.

    Comment by Lulu Thompson — November 14, 2010 @ 12:29 am

  6. Wow, this sounds great – a reminder that smaller regional theater can sometimes pack as much punch and talent as a large Broadway-type production. All I know is it must have been good, because a certain co-author of the above review offered to take me on the two hour drive to JFK airport on condition that I let her talk about Dan Sullivan and the show along the way. Do you know what that costs in tolls alone? ;-)

    Comment by stubbleyou — November 14, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

  7. Great write up, as always, Howard. Your words have a unique ability to put us front and center at whatever event you’re describing. Wish I had gotten a chance to see Dan’s talent’s in Toronto or Connecticut.

    Comment by Pamela — November 14, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

  8. Wow… just over a week ago, this spectacular show was still ahead of me and my two friends. As I was sitting there early in the first Act, I was feeling the full, visceral power of what was happening in front of me. I was tempted to look at those behind me, thinking – surely everyone in the room must be going through the same experience, but…what if they’re not. Just then, Lulu turns and whispers, “This… is… REALLY… GOOD!!!” That was all I needed. Lulu had not seen Dan in JB and I had worried that she might not feel any particular connection or chemistry.

    Lulu had passed up the August Wilson street-naming and fan brunch in NY and decided to make the drive with us. None of us could have imagined how euphoric this was going to be. I didn’t want it to end. Every moment was a piece of theater heaven. It is an intimate theater, quaint and historic, but somehow not a venue which invites a standing ovation, but there was NO OTHER way for such a performance to end! The audience was immediately on their feet. I plan to go again this week, although it’s hard to imagine that this could just fade into history after Sunday. Any Broadway producers out there looking for a sure thing?

    And as far as Stubbleyou’s memory of a certain person’s ‘price’ for a ride to the airport…everyone remembers it the way they need to…and I remember exactly the same way! The tolls…about $16, sharing the experience of the show…priceless!

    Comment by Audrey — November 15, 2010 @ 9:09 am

  9. Great job Audrey and Howard on a well-written article. “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” is one of my most favorite movies-it makes a lot of people’s top 10 list-and reading the review was nostalgic. It must have been tough for Dan Sullivan to know that the audience would helplessly compare his performance to that of Jack Nicholson. Your story is evidence that this fine actor was up to the task.

    Comment by Michael Heath — November 15, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  10. Great article and I wished I could have seen this. I saw Dan twice in JB/Toronto and he is an excellent actor. I had no doubt he would be terrific in this production.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Comment by Tiggerbelle/Linda — November 15, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

  11. Of course Jersey Boys fans are the most devoted people! They’ll follow their ‘Boys’ near and far and they recognize great talent! Toronto is missing Dan Sullivan and I’m glad he’s gone on to add his special talent to this role. Just sorry that it’s not a little closer. Thanks for your article Howard! Great to hear an update. Jersey Fans are fabulous!

    Comment by Nicola — November 16, 2010 @ 7:56 am

  12. Fortunately, I was able to get back last week to see Dan and this phenomenal cast one more time before the run sadly ended today. The audience applauded after EVERY scene; I didn’t count, but it was about 5 or 6 times in both of the two Acts. I’d take Dan’s complex and engaging interpretation of the character over the great Jack Nicholson’s any day.

    I’ve got to see Dan in his next project, because it can’t be that his mesmerizing performances (as DeVito and McMurphy) are just due to spot-on casting.

    Comment by Audrey — November 22, 2010 @ 12:39 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment