PARK HILLS — A large, imaginary rabbit and a good-natured man try to sort out their hilarious messes in Mineral Area College Little Theatre Guild’s production of “Harvey,” to be performed at 7:30 nightly, Wednesday through Saturday in MAC’s Community Center.
Tickets are available at the door or at MAC’s Bookstore, and are $5 each for general admission, $2 for students and seniors.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Mary Chase was also adapted to the famous 1950 movie featuring James Stewart. The plot revolves around a man named Elwood whose faithful companion is Harvey, a 6-foot rabbit only he can see.
Harvey and Elwood have a good time together, bumbling around without a care in the world, going for walks and drinking in bars.
Rusty Doughty of Bonne Terre is making his return to MAC theater to play the lead role of Elwood.
Doughty said he is an old movie fan but he has never seen the movie, “Harvey.”
“And of course when I got cast I didn’t want to see it because I wanted to make the role completely mine,” he said.
Doughty said Elwood is a really polite and ordinary man who doesn’t care what everyone thinks of him.
“He’s the kind of guy you would like instantly,” Doughty said. “He’s naturally charming. Other than the fact that he sees a white rabbit, he’s pretty much ‘your average Joe.'”
One day Elwood returns home unexpectedly and tries to introduce Harvey at a women’s group luncheon his sister, Veta, has organized.
Susan Dix plays Mrs. Ethyl Chavenet, a woman Elwood introduces the rabbit to.
“Veta and Myrtle are trying to impress me and they are hoping Elwood wouldn’t come home but he does,” Dix said. “I’m bewildered about the fact that he is introducing me to a rabbit I cannot see.”
Veta decides she’s had enough of Harvey, and tries to have Elwood committed to a mental hospital.
“Veta is a very fun character to play because, bless her heart, she knows her brother has a problem and eventually she tries to get him committed,” June Boyer said. “She talks so much she ends up getting herself locked up.”
During Veta and Elwood’s first interview with the doctor of the mental hospital, the doctor becomes convinced that Veta, not Elwood is the rightful candidate for residency.
“Veta is very flustered, nervous and jumpy about putting her brother away,” said Tim Benz, who is co-directing the MAC production and playing the part of the cab driver. “Dr. Sanderson assumes she is the crazy one because she says she sees Harvey sometimes, too.”
Tony Boyd of Farmington plays Dr. Sanderson, the young and inexperienced doctor.
Dr. Chumley fires Dr. Sanderson for making his huge mistake.
“In my opinion, Veta is just as crazy as Elwood,” Boyd said. “They are both nutty.”
But Dr. Chumley ends up asking Dr. Sanderson to come back after the more experienced doctor ends up seeing the rabbit, himself.
Nurse Kelly, played by Kara Cramer of Farmington, tries to help her love interest, Dr. Sanderson, sort out the whole mess. too many commas were here, I think I corrected it to what she meant.
Also helping out is Wilson, “the strong-armed asylum attendant.”
“I’m the guy to call when you’ve got a screw on the loose,” said Daniel Engler, a Farmington senior who is portraying Wilson.
Ben Wright, a Farmington Middle School student, is the youngest actor in the play but he is playing the oldest character. This is Wright’s third MAC play but he said it is probably his biggest role.
Wright portrays a retired judge who has decided to go back into law. He represents Veta and tries to help her out of her sticky situation.
“Veta wants to sue the doctors for putting her into a sanitarium and causing the big mix-up,” Wright said.
No one wanted Elwood locked up more than Myrtle Mae, Veta’s daughter who is desperate to get a man. Myrtle Mae, played by Megan Wenninger, a senior Fredericktown High School, is very embarrassed by her uncle’s bizarre behavior.
Roger Francis II of Farmington is also returning to the college theater to play Dr. Chumley.
“At the beginning, Dr. Chumley tries to be the voice of reason,” Francis said. “By the end of the play, he pretty much falls apart.”
Francis is a 1988 MAC alumni.
“Once you get into theater you just have to go back every now and then just to get it out of your system for a little while,” he said.
Besides that, Francis said, he likes the play.
The rest of the cast includes Kala Whaley of Desloge as Miss Johnson and Daisy Francisco of Farmington as Mrs. Chumley
Mary Coyle Chase’s play was originally performed on Broadway in 1944. The play was highly successful, running for 1,755 performances at New York’s 48th Street Theater.
“Harvey” was one of James Stewart’s favorite roles. He played it live on stage for six months in England before filming the movie. Josephine Hull, who played Veta on stage and in the movie, won the academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role.