Craig A. Webb Plays Sarcastic Patient Scanlon in Western Reserve Playhouse’s ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’

Craig A. Webb describes himself as “a retired highway worker, anti-war activist, circus clown, and old hippie with a B.A. in Theatre from Cleveland State University.” Now he can add mental patient re-enactor to that list, as he is currently tackling the role of Scanlon in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The psychological drama will be presented May 11-26 at Western Reserve Playhouse. The venue is located at 3326 Everett Road in Bath. To reserve tickets, please visit the company website

Written by Dale Wasserman — based on the book by Ken Kesey — the WRP production is being helmed by WRP Co-Artistic Director Brian Westerley. The cast also features April Deming, Ryan Rasnick, Ryan Dyke, Joe Turner, Dennis Burby, Andrew Gordon, Marc Dusini, Irv Korman, Abby Morris, Vince Sarowatz, Bradley Haramis, David Wagar, Mikhayla Wilkins and Annette Fernandez.

Craig A. Webb (left) with castmates from WRP’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

LandOfCleve: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

Craig: I was born in a Bay Village hospital and grew up in East Cleveland and Willoughby Hills

LandOfCleve: Where do you live now, and where do you work?

Craig: I live in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland, and (being retired) currently dabble in writing, acting, motorcycle riding, and general geriatric mischief.

LandOfCleve: What are your other Northeast Ohio connections?

Craig: I attended Kent State University until the National Guard used us for target practice, then I graduated from CSU and worked at many area theatres until marriage and fatherhood required a real job.

LandOfCleve: How did your background and education prepare you for a career in the theatre?

Craig: My theatre degree from CSU included work in acting, playwriting, directing, designing, and theater technology. I also spent 7 years (on & off) performing with B.I.T.E. (the Bezerko Improvisational Theatre Ensemble) and hosting Praise the Ford, a satirical radio comedy on WCSB 98.3 FM. I also toured nationally with The New Shakespeare Company of San Francisco, California, The George Matthews Great London Circus of Martinez, California, and Kelly Brothers’ Circus of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

LandOfCleve: Tell us about a few of your favorite past local stage and/or screen experiences.

Craig: My favorite theatrical experiences include performing improvisational comedy, writing and performing two years of radio satire, touring with Shakespeare and the Circus, and an alumni appearance as Stephano, the drunken butler in The Tempest, which was the final performance in the old CSU Factory Theater where I spent my college years.

LandOfCleve: Tell us about your past involvement with Western Reserve Playhouse.

Craig: I became aware of Western Reserve Playhouse when they declined my one-act for their Short Plays Festival. I came down to see what type of plays they did accept and was enchanted by their old-school, “summer stock” atmosphere. Musicals aren’t my forte (I can’t dance, or carry a tune in a bucket), so I auditioned for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest instead.

LandOfCleve: What character do you play in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and what is your approach to your role?

Craig: I play Scanlon, one of the asylum patients who has very little to say but tends to represent a sarcastic, darker view of the play’s events. I hope to convey a slightly comic touch to the character’s worst observations.

LandOfCleve: How have the director, cast and crew collaborated to bring this show to life?

Craig: Our director Brian Westerly had us visit Portage Path Emergency Services to get some real world insight on mental illness, and despite some of the play’s inconsistencies with current psychiatric practice, has labored to ground our production in reality.

LandOfCleve: What can audiences expect when they come see the show?

Craig: I think audiences can expect to see an honest, authentic production without the Hollywood extravagance and embellishment of the well-known movie.

LandOfCleve: What are your dream roles or types of characters you’d like to play in the future?

Craig: As I am older now, and somewhat portly, the Bard’s most weighty comic characters — Bottom, Sir Toby Belch, and Falstaff — would be worthy roles to consider.

LandOfCleve: What other upcoming projects and productions are you working on?

Craig: I’m always writing, with a satiric novel based on my old radio show and a collection of short Cleveland horror stories already published and several plays up for consideration in various festivals. I’ve also been auditioning for some upcoming productions — so wish me luck!

LandOfCleve: What advice do you have for aspiring actors and actresses?

Craig: I’d advise young actors and actresses to concentrate on their chosen performance area, and not scatter your focus as much as I did. I’d go easy on the improvisation — it makes it difficult to stick to your printed lines. Also, take advantage of the growing opportunities for movie and Internet work in Cleveland.

LandOfCleve: Anything else you would like to add or promote?

Craig: I always like to encourage new work in the theatre, and two great places to see it and participate are Cleveland Public Theater’s Dark Room on the second Tuesday of every month (free beer provided), and Playwrights’ Local classes and workshops in the Waterloo Arts neighborhood.

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