Upcoming EHS drama “Harvey” sheds light on the ironies of life
Published 10:38 am Monday, March 28, 2016
As the personalities of an affable array of characters, including one with an imaginary friend named Harvey, Elizabethton High School drama students will perform two nights of insightful and outlandish entertainment this April.
“Harvey,” written by Mary Chase, first premiered on Broadway in 1944, and today it continues to captivate audiences of all ages for its uncanny humor and unexpected insights.
Fourteen talented students from EHS will bring the classic comedy to life on stage at T.A. Dugger Auditorium on April 15 and 16 at 7 p.m.
“This drama is a classic, and I knew I had the caliber of talent needed for those characters,” said EHS drama instructor Meg Foster.
Elwood Dowd, the main character, is played by Colby McKeehan, who Foster said is a natural choice for the role because he is just as pleasant and gentlemanly in life as when he plays his character. Elwood has an unseen friend, a 6-foot tall rabbit named Harvey, whom he introduces to everyone he meets.
Elwood’s frequent reference to Harvey is an increasing embarrassment to his sister Veta Simmons. Veta, played by Cameron Colbaugh, decides to commit Dowd to the sanitarium, but when they arrive, a series of amusing confusion and delusion ensues.
Nurse Ruth Kelly, played by Vianna Isbister, has a love-hate relationship with the flirtacious Dr. Lyman Sanderson, played by Aidan Quinlan. Sanderson incidentally commits Veta instead of Elwood. Meanwhile, Elwood can’t find Harvey anywhere.
What everyone presumes to be Elwood’s delusion of Harvey ends up becoming real to more people than Elwood, including another doctor, William Chumley, played by Josh Rice.
“It’s a simple plot, but a lot can be taken from it,” said McKeehan. “A man who is presumed to be crazy simply doesn’t care what people think. He just wants to be friends with everybody.”
McKeehan believes one of his lines summarizes the theme of the play. It is a scene in which Elwood relates something his mother used to say.
“‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
Foster said that the characters minds change about certain things throughout the play, and that the audience may have that change of heart as well.
“The more you get into it, you begin thinking the guy with imaginary friend is more normal than everyone else in play,” said Foster. “The ending is very sweet and really makes you think about life.”
The cast also includes Amber King, Gabby Smith, Kallie Jenkins, Bailey Marvel, Bailea Persinger, Braiden Smith, Josh Nave and Cory Fitzsimmons. Foster said the crew sourced much of its costume from local antique stores, as the play is set in the 1940s.
Tickets are available at the door for $5, and all proceeds will fund the EHS Drama Department, which Foster said plans to perform two plays next year. For more information, call EHS at 423-547-8015.