PARK HILLS – The affable characters of Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary 6’3” rabbit friend, Harvey, will take the stage Thursday through Saturday in the Little Theatre Guild’s performance on Mineral Area College’s Park Hills campus.
Mild-mannered Elwood P. Dowd claims to have an unseen — and presumably imaginary — friend, Harvey, the 6-foot 3.5-inch rabbit. As Elwood introduces Harvey to everyone he meets his sister, Veta, is increasingly embarrassed and eventually has him committed to a sanitarium to spare her and her daughter, Myrtle Mae, from future humiliation.
The plot takes a turn, however, when the notion of who’s crazy and who isn’t is stood on end.
Playing the lead role of Elwood P. Dowd in the play is Farmington High School student Sam Gallaher who said he was already familiar with the storyline from having seen the movie.
“I really liked the character portrayed by Jimmy Stewart,” he said. “I came in and didn’t think I was going to get a part and came out surprised.”
Asked if he intends to use Stewart’s iconic portrayal of Dowd as inspiration for his performance, Gallaher said, “I’m putting a little bit of Jimmy Stewart, as well as a little bit of myself, in the role. I really enjoy the play and think the audience will like it, too.”
Playing the part of Dowd’s sister, Veta Simmons, is veteran MAC actress Leslea Walter who said she’s looking forward to playing a part that’s a little different than any role she’s played before.
“Veta is hilarious in her sincerity,” said Walter. “She’s so serious all the time to a point where you say, ‘oh, my goodness, this woman is crazy!’ It’s a different role because of that. I’ve played very hammy parts before where it’s obvious that it’s a theater show, where this is a little more subtle. It’s been a challenge for sure.”
The role of the psychiatrist and mental institution owner, Dr. Chumley, is played by Aaron Gamble of Potosi.
Asked how the character he plays differs from the others, Gamble said, “He’s much more serious than the others, at least at the beginning. He’s the guy in charge. Even though he’s older than midlife, he’s basically having a midlife crisis because his work is just killing him mentally.
“After he meets Elwood, and especially after he meets Harvey — because everyone eventually meets Harvey in one way or another — Chumley begins wishing he was as crazy as these people because they live much happier and carefree lives than he does.”
Gamble, who has acted in a number of local plays through the years, said he likes mid-20th century comedies like “Harvey” and has enjoyed preparing for the role of Dr. Chumley.
The show will be at 7 p.m. each night.
Little Theatre Guild’s cast list also includes Myrtle Mae Simmons: Rachel Gann, Park Hills; Miss Johnson: Kristen Stokes, Park Hills; Mrs. Chauvenet: Lakyn Lewis, Irondale; Nurse Kelly: McKayla Godot, Farmington; Wilson: Theodore Barnhouse III, Doe Run; Dr. Sanderson: Charles Bailey, Virginia Beach, Va.; Betty Chumley: Brittney Pickett, Potosi; Judge Gaffney: Frank Miller, Desloge; and E.J. Lofgren: Jason Boes, Bismarck.
MAC Little Theatre Guild’s next play is “Into the Woods,” which will be performed Dec. 3-6.
Auditions for “Into the Woods” will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the MAC Fine Arts Theatre in Park Hills. Seven men and 10 women are needed to fill the roles. Hopefuls should be prepared with a one minute vocal audition. Take a karaoke disc or sheet music for accompaniment (no lead vocals). A short dance routine will be taught.
Performances for “Harvey” are at 7 p.m. nightly, Oct. 2-4, in the Fine Arts Theatre on the Park Hills Campus.
Tickets are available at the MAC Bookstore or at the door on the night of the performances, and are $7 general admission or $3 for MAC students and senior citizens.
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or email@example.com