The Tower Players opened their most recent project, Mary Chase’s “Harvey,” last night.
“Harvey” is a 1950s American comedy in which the central character, the eccentric Elwood P. Dowd, claims to have a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey as his closest companion.
Elwood’s sister, Veta, and his niece, Myrtle Mae reside with him in his house. Much to the chagrin of his socially-conscious sister, the friendly and quirky Elwood introduces his invisible, and apparently imaginary, companion to everyone he meets. Elwood’s alarming behavior sends guests running from a house party Veta is attempting to host.
Veta, fed up with her brother’s antics, decides to commit him to a sanitarium for treatment. But because of her extremely agitated state, and her description of her brother’s strange companion, the young Dr. Sanderson is convinced that it is Veta, not Elwood, who needs to be institutionalized. Veta is then committed to the sanatorium, Elwood is free to go, and Harvey is nowhere to be seen.
Chaos ensues as the doctors try to locate the cheery Elwood, Elwood tries to track down Harvey, and everyone tries to figure out who is — and is not — crazy.
Senior Dylan Strehle, playing the eccentric Elwood P. Dowd in the show, said he is excited to bring some laughter to Hillsdale College.
“I love to make people laugh and this show is full of it,” Strehle said. “I can’t wait to see where the audience laughs once we show it to them, it’s never where you expect.”
While a highly amusing and fast-paced show, the comedy is not without its challenges. Strehle mentioned that one of the most challenging parts is keeping the energy levels high.
“Comedy depends heavily on energetic physicality and delivery,” Strehle said. “I’m on stage for most the show, so it’s tough to maintain.”
“Harvey” is the last performance for senior Amber Crump, who has participated in five shows since her junior year and portrays Nurse Kelly in “Harvey.” Crump mentioned that while “Harvey” is a comedy, this is not always obvious.
“The hardest part of this show is that it’s a comedy, and yet the text is not funny on its own,” Crump said. “It’s the actors’ job to have some type of physicality or voice intonation that will bring out the humor of the text. You have to make it jump out.”
Performances for “Harvey” are tonight till Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
Crump said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time working with the cast and Assistant Professor of Theatre Chris Matsos, director of the play, and it’s a bittersweet moment for her.
“The most fun part has been working with Chris,” Crump said. “He really helps us to dive deep into our characters. He works on the individual, and that’s why this show is really special.”