Bonnie Hill, director of the upcoming production of Harvey at Church Hill Theatre, has assembled an outstanding cast for this iconic American play. Harvey premiered on Broadway in late 1944, in the middle of World War II, bringing the nation a welcome dose of comedy and whimsy. Mary Chase’s play won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize and has been delighting audiences ever since. Who knew that a six-foot-plus tall rabbit would become such a memorable presence in world culture?
Harvey is (mostly) visible only to Elwood P. Dowd, a carefree charmer who takes Harvey everywhere and introduces him to everyone. This is so distressful to Dowd’s family and friends that they decide to institutionalize him. The sanitarium copes no better than the real world with an imaginary rabbit, but medical science does have methods to deal with Dowd. Mary Chase’s solution of course allows Harvey to live on forever.
The ever-amiable Elwood P. Dowd is played by Frank St. Armour. His frustrated sister Veta (Debra McGuire), niece Myrtle Mae (Karenna Foley) and Aunt Mrs. Chauvenet (Sheila Austrian) work with their lawyer, Judge Gaffney (John Kamp), to have him committed. The sanitarium staff then manage to botch things thoroughly by locking up Veta instead of Elwood. The psychiatrists Dr. Chumley (Brian McGunigle) and Dr. Sanderson (James Diggs), along with a clever nurse (Sharon Herz) and tough orderly (Michael Moore) do not bring order out of chaos. Mrs. Chumley (Mary Ann McGunigle) and an irascible cab driver (Bob Chauncey) do help sort things out. And because Harvey is a pooka, he plays himself.
Harvey opens at Church Hill Theatre on Friday, September 8 and will run until September 24. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and on Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are available on the CHT website: churchhilltheatre.org or through the box-office at 410-556-6003.
Cast of Harvey at a read through of the script and discussion of the set. In clockwise order: Brian McGunigle (Dr. Chumley), Frank St. Amour (Elwood P. Dowd), Debra McGuire (Veta Louise), Karenna Foley (Myrtle Mae), Sharon Herz (the Nurse), James Diggs (Dr. Sanderson), Michael Moore (Wilson), Sheila Austrian (Mrs. Chauvenet), Mary Ann McGunigle (Mrs. Chumley). Not pictured: Bob Chauncey (EJ Lofgren)