Providence Players HarveyBy Sara McMullin • Oct 1st, 2009 • Category: Reviews
James Lee Community Center Theater, Falls Church, VA
Through October 10th
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Reviewed September 26th, 2009
The Providence Players of Fairfax gives the audience the complete package with Harvey. The cast does a great job at giving their interpreting of the classic farce. Truly a timeless piece that, when done well, will make you cheer for the big white rabbit.
Harvey, is the mysterious star of the show and the best friend of Elwood P. Dowd, played by Mike Matthiesen. If you have ever seen the film Harvey, you will immediately understand why Matthiesen was perfect for this part. He has a striking resemblance to James Stewart from looks to mannerism to voice. Mr. Dowd is the lovable, yet delusional brother of Mrs. Veta Louise Simmons, played by Beth Hughes-Brown. Veta, who lives in the home of her brother, is desperately trying to make an in with a good social circle so that her daughter, Mrs. Myrtle Mae Simmons, played by Liz Smith, can be introduced to a proper boyfriend. This has proven to be very difficult for Veta, because whenever she invited guests over to the house things are always ruined by her brother Elwood and his friend Harvey. Harvey is a Pooka. What is a Pooka? In this case it’s a six foot tall white rabbit, that only Elwood can see and hear, but he claims he is all too real. Veta eventually grows tired of Elwood’s behavior and decides to try and have him committed, emphasis on tries.
Brown proves to be a great one of the main attractions on stage, her constant erratic behavior mixed with her pompous exterior of growing up a socialite will make you love to watch her scream and carry on at every little thing.
Nurse Kelly, played by Mary Frances Dini, and Doctor Sanderson, played by Steve Smith, create fun and sassy chemistry on stage between each other leaving the audience guessing if they will end up together, or biting each others heads off. Dr. Chumley, played by Matt Ames, is pompous, uptight and extremely full of himself. Ames creates an air about himself that resonates throughout the theatre, which makes it even more delightful to see him get squirmy and twitchy when Harvey is mentioned. Accompanied by his orderly, Duane Wilson, played by Craig Geoffrion, who thinks with his fists, they go off to find Mr. Dowd in search of answers, but wind up with more than they bargain for.
Something that deserves pointing out is the set. The set consists of only two backgrounds, the sitting room and the hospital lobby. Both were beautifully done and looked like a professional set. Never in my life have I seen people clap and cheer for a scene change, but this crew deserved it. When turning the scene from Dowd’s home into the lobby of the “Chumly institute” it almost looked choreographed alongside a simple piano tune from the era. Something so small and simple, proved to be an intricate detail in the making of this production that had the audience all impressed. For anyone who has never heard of Harvey I highly recommend seeing the show. It is one of those little gems created a long time ago that will remain funny forever no matter the change in language and slang. It is perfect for young and old.
Be aware that lighted tobacco products are used briefly on the stage throughout the production. If you have any issues with this I recommend sitting in the back. If you have never been to a Providence Players production before, the show itself is in a local community center. Don’t go looking for a theatre. There are tiny signs giving indication to where it is, but if you are not keeping your eyes peeled and don’t know it’s in the community center, you would never find it.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4220.
Sara McMullin spent two years working in a coached ensemble called (luxurious tooth) in Chicago, and had the privilege of working with Jonathan Pitts founder of the Chicago Improv Festival. Since moving back to DC Sara has been involved in various local productions such as Hexagon's "Strike while the irony's hot" and "What so proudly we bailed" and is now Hexagon's Marketing VP. She also has performed at The Blair Mansion ("Politics is Murder," "The Day Disco Died" and "Murder is All in the Family." She is also is a comedy writer who has interned for "The Potomac Review," a literary magazine published by Montgomery College.