Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Harvey"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Harvey"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at the Granite Theatre is "Harvey" the Pulitzer Prize winning play about Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart in the 1950 movie) who has been driving his sister and niece crazy by introducing everyone he meets to his pal, Harvey, a six foot tall rabbit that can only be seen by Elwood. Veta, his sister decides to have him committed to a sanitarium to spare her daughter, Myrtle Mae, and their family from further embarrassment. Problems arise when she explains to the doctors that years of living with Elwood's hallucination have caused her to see Harvey as well. "Harvey" opened to rave reviews on Broadway in 1944 and ran for four and a half years at the 48th Street Theatre. It played for 1,755 performances, making it one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. Director Gary Sullivan captures the magical quality needed for this show with his talented cast. He weaves a spell that entrances the audience all night long with laughter and merriment, winning it a well deserved standing ovation as its reward.

Gary blocks the show very well especially in the group scene at the end of the show. The stage is divided into two separate sets, stage left is the library of the old Dowd mansion and stage right is the reception room of Chumley's rest. Set designer David Jepson painted the library set in royal blue while the reception room is painted lime green. Gary has his performers utilize both playing area wonderfully. He keeps the show set in the spring of 1944 and the set and costumes reflect this time era. The stage manager is Kate Luce while the light and sound are handled by Morgan ban Draoi. Arthur Pignataro plays Elwood excellently. He endears himself to the audience, capturing their hearts and gives a winning portrayal of the character. Arthur is very funny as the laid back, tippler with his invisible rabbit and obtains many laughs with his antics. One of the biggest scene stealers in the show is Carol Anne Williams as Veta Louis Simmons. She plays the ultimate society matron who is very offended by her seemingly crazy brother until she realizes Harvey is her friend, too. Carol makes each of her comic lines count, delivering a hilarious performance while doing so.

The rest of this 11 member cast include Michelle Messina as Veta's bratty and spoiled daughter, Myrtle Mae who is anxious to get rid of her uncle so she can win a beau. She handles her role with ease. Harold Ashton plays the cunning Dr. Chumley who wants Harvey for himself while Patricia Spencer is endearing as his wife, Betty while Joe Thompson is the blustery, Judge Gaffney. John Stockwell Payne and Jennifer Kimmerlee play Dr. Sanderson and Nurse Kelly, the young love interest in the show, handling their hate/love relationship beautifully. The other scene stealer is John Brennan as Duane Wilson, Chumley's attendant who captures runaway patients and puts them into the hydro tubs. He has some of the funniest lines in the show, garnering him many laughs. Michelle Donovan is a hoot as Aunt Ethel who is horrified by Elwood's strange behavior while Bob Mignarri plays the cab driver, EJ Lofgren who opens Veta's eyes about making Elwood into a normal person again because normal people can be such bastards. So for a trip back to the 1940's and a visit with an invisible rabbit, be sure to catch "Harvey" at the Granite Theatre.

"Harvey" (8 September - 1 October)
THE GRANITE THEATRE
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY MA
1 (401) 596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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