The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is honored to bring the heartwarming comedy “Harvey” to the stage May 10 – 26. This show is guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages just as the 1950 movie starring Jimmy Stewart has for the past seven decades.
“When I cast this show, I knew I had to find someone who could bring the lovable Elwood P. Dowd to life as Jimmy Stewart did,” explained director Pam Johnson. “And I found that someone in Lucas Schmidt, one of JRT’s regulars.
“If you’ve seen him on stage, you know what I mean. Well, unless the only thing you’ve seen him in is “Matilda the Musical.” His role in Harvey is the total opposite of the evil Miss Trunchbull he played in that show.”
Elwood is kind and charming but considered an oddity in town because his best friend is a 6½-foot-tall invisible rabbit named Harvey. As his sister Veta Louis Simmons puts it, “He and Elwood go every place together. Elwood buys railroad tickets and theater tickets for both of them. We have to set a place at the table for Harvey. We have to move over on the sofa to make room for Harvey. And they tell each other everything.”
Veta and her daughter Myrtle Mae are so frazzled by Elwood’s delusions, they decide to have him committed to a sanitarium. But, after a comedy of errors, Veta is the one committed and Elwood goes free. Once the mistake is discovered, the hunt is on for Elwood to bring him back to the sanitarium.
But the question to the very end is, does Elwood really belong in a sanitarium? What’s so wrong about seeing a rabbit, especially when Elwood’s philosophy on life is so beautiful?
Daniel Matthews, who plays the sanitarium orderly Duane Wilson, said his favorite Elwood quote is, “I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whomever I’m with.”
Austin Wingate, who portrays the arrogant Dr. Lyman Sanderson, said his favorite quote is, “You must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
“The quote from Elwood that I love best,” said Johnson, “is ‘Doctor, I wrestled with reality for 25 years, and I am happy to state that I finally won out over it.’”
Some of Elwood’s statements may seem outrageous, but they can also make people stop and evaluate what life truly is about.
“There is a little bit of Elwood in all of us: believing in the impossible, and not taking life too seriously,” said Dana Kehs, who plays the aristocratic family friend Mrs. Chauvenet.
Wingate added, “This show is a great reminder for our fast-paced world to slow down and appreciate the ‘miracles’ that are all around us.”
“I agree,” Johnson said. “Slow down and look at the world a little differently. It’s a lovely place to live.”
“Harvey” is written by Mary Chase and directed by Pam Johnson. The JRT thanks the show’s sponsors: Wolfe Development, Citizens Bank, Monkee’s of Johnson City, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Heather Allen, Tim Barto, Andy Cobble, Janette Gaines, Shawn Hale, Sarah Sanders, Catherine Squibb, and Krista Wharton.
Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors.
The theatre is located at West Main Street. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com. (An American Sign Language interpreter will interpret the Saturday evening, May 25, show. Reservations for the interpreted show need to be made by May 4.)