Few plays have survived seven decades and remained relevant and enjoyable to modern audiences. “Harvey” is one of the few. It opened on Broadway on Nov. 1, 1944 for a run of 1,775 performances and it continues to be produced with regularity.
“Harvey” opens 7:30 tonight at Tyler Civic Theatre Center, 400 South Park Drive.
The play centers around Elwood P. Dowd (played by Michael McLeod making his TCTC Debut). Elwood is a kind, gentle, soft-spoken man from a prestigious family who has an unseen (and presumably imaginary) friend named Harvey — described as a 6 foot-by- 3 inch tall “pooka” resembling an anthropomorphic rabbit.
Longtime radio personality Amy Austin returns to the TCTC stage to play Veta, Elwood’s social-climbing sister. Veta decides to have Elwood committed to an institution to protect her and her daughter, Myrtle Mae, (played by Helaina Wilkerson) from further embarrassment.
The real comedy of errors begins when Veta and Elwood arrive at the sanitarium. The young, handsome and very flirtatious Dr. Sanderson (played by Joe Hamilton) commits Veta instead of Elwood.
The cast includes other faces familiar to TCTC. Tom Young plays the family lawyer while Jim Alexander plays Dr. Chumley, who plans to give Elwood an injection that makes him a “perfectly normal human being.” Rounding out the cast are Elizabeth Huff, Brooke Boyd, Zach Woods, Gary Walker, Carol Wilcox and Jenna Boyd.
“Each show has its own unique flavor,” Director Tilly T. McLeod said. “‘Harvey is quirky, fun and intriguing. Working with this cast and crew has been a delight. They have a passion for this show and have thrown their whole hearts into it.”
She said, “Watching the movie (1950 starring James Stewart) in preparation for this show, I was intrigued by Elwood’s character just like I was the first time I saw the movie 25 years ago. If you like the movie, you’ll love the stage version. There are so many great lines that could be missed in the movie. In live theatre, the actors have the chance to emphasize or say a line in such a way that it can’t be lost.”
The plays is being produced by Joe Taylor and Sheri Rains. Performance dates are Friday through Sunday and Sept. 11 through 14. For ticket information, call the TCTC box office at 903-592-0561 or visit www.tylercivictheatre.com .