Transplanted Actress Abby Morris Will Make the Rounds as Nurse Flinn in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ at Western Reserve Playhouse

Actress Abby Morris is a recent transplant to Northeast Ohio, but she is already settling in nicely since moving here from Michigan in 2016. Speaking of transplants, Abby will be portraying the role of Nurse Flinn in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which 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 at www.westernreserveplayhouse.org.

Based on the book by Ken Kesey, the classic drama by Dale Wasserman will be directed for WRP by Co-Artistic Director Brian Westerley. The cast also includes April Deming, Ryan Rasnick, Joe Turner, Dennis Burby, Craig Webb, Marc Dusini, Irv Korman, Andrew Gordon, Vince Sarowatz, Bradley Haramis, David Wagar, Mikhayla Wilkins and Annette Fernandez.

Abby’s previous credits include Eurydice at Pit and Balcony in Saginaw, MI, and The Taming of the Shrew at Cedarville University Theatre. When she is not onstage, abby can be found teaching high school English.

LandOfCleve: Describe yourself in 25 words or less.

Abby: I’m a wife, sister, daughter, and aunt. I follow Jesus, teach English, and travel often. And I love theatre.

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

Abby: I was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and I grew up in that area of mid-Michigan. (I’m a Michigan State fan, though, so don’t get too worried. I cheer against maize and blue, too.)

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

Abby: I live in Cuyahoga Falls, and I’ve been substitute teaching this year. I spent September through March in the Nordonia district, and I’m finishing the school year teaching at Copley High School.

LandOfCleve: What are your other Northeast Ohio connections?

Abby: My husband is Akron born-and-raised. After attending Cedarville University, Stephen came home to the Akron area and I went home to Michigan. He proposed to me about a year later, and I joined him in Cuyahoga Falls after our wedding in June 2016.

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

Abby: I had many excellent opportunities to participate in high-quality theatre from high school through college. Although I never took a theatre class at Cedarville, I frequently participated in the Acting or Directing classes for my friends. After my theatre passion began in about ninth grade, I actively sought out opportunities to grow and learn as an actress and a thespian. And really, becoming an English teacher has helped me to read scripts closely, to do my outside research, to empathize with characters, and to listen well, both on and off stage.

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

Abby: Since I’m new to the area, I haven’t had too many local stage experiences. I did have the chance to participate in the selection process for the 2017 8×10 Theatrefest at Weathervane Playhouse in Akron. I was both slightly intimidated and truly ecstatic to sit in a room with local theatre legends, really, as we read through the top 16 scripts. Unfortunately, I was out of town during the rehearsal process, but I did thoroughly enjoy seeing the final product last July.

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

Abby: Well, a little over a month ago, I fell into a true theatre withdrawal. I recognized my desperation and found the Cleveland Stage Alliance website. After searching through local theatres with upcoming auditions, I saw that Western Reserve Playhouse 1) had upcoming auditions, 2) was doing a show I would love to be a part of, and 3) was not terribly far away. A triple threat. Before my internet search and audition, I had not known of Western Reserve Playhouse. I’m so glad I found it!

LandOfCleve: What character do you play in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and how are you approaching the role?

Abby: I am Nurse Flinn, the “vapid,” naive, deeply Catholic nurse who both admires and fears Nurse Ratched’s leadership style on the Psych ward. Part of why I was excited to audition for this show, is that I read this book for the first time in February, when some of my students selected it as an independent reading book. As I’ve become Nurse Flinn, I’ve drawn on what I know of her from the book, as well as what I imagine her background to be. What would cause a slightly incompetent nurse to stay at a job where she’s partially scared of both her patients and her boss? And what motivated her to apply for this job initially? I’ve enjoyed exploring these– and other– questions, knowing that regardless of stage time or lines, I have the chance to become a real person, “to climb into someone’s skin and walk around in it,” as Atticus Finch would say. And I love doing that.

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

Abby: Brian, our director, has had infectious enthusiasm and great insights for us through the whole process. He instructed us not to watch the film between auditions and performance, so that we can create our own characters without being influenced by the famous performances in the 1975 classic. Our main inspiration has come from the original novel by Ken Kesey. Some of my favorite collaborating, though, comes from the spontaneous between-scenes conversations with cast members. “What would happen if I tried…?” or “Oh, what if you said it like this…?” or “So why do you think she feels that way?” Although I’ve enjoyed the few solo pieces I’ve done, I thrive on the collaboration of a full show.

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

Abby: Please expect to laugh. Expect shocks and surprises, even if you know the story well. And most importantly, expect to think and to question what you might have assumed about these characters, their motivations, and the truths they reflect about fear, dignity, and sacrifice.

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

Abby: As long as I can get on-board with the message of a show, I’m fairly content in any role. With that being said, I loved my previous roles of the White Witch, Kate (The Taming of the Shrew), and Eurydice. I think I would really enjoy a role along the lines of the White Witch– a female character whose primary motivation does not revolve around romantic love.

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

Abby: I have my eyes on a few upcoming audition dates, but right now, I’m focused on Cuckoo’s Nest.

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

Abby: Read books and watch movies and learn from the people in your life. To me, acting is empathizing. Consume as many stories as you can, and imagine how it would feel to be each of the characters.

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