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ALTON — Most people tend to discard their imaginary friends when they become an adult, but Elwood P. Dowd, the lead character in “Harvey,” insists his is still around.
Marquette Catholic High School’s performing arts department brings the tale of Dowd (played by Joseph File) and his six-and-a-half-foot rabbit to the stage Thursday, Nov. 16, to Saturday, Nov. 18, in the humorous play, written by Mary Chase.
Surprising many critics (and actors who had turned down the lead role) by winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1944, the play ran for four years and has been revived, many times since, by theaters of all sizes. In 1950, it was made into a movie, starring none other than the legendary Jimmy Stewart.
The story goes something like this:
Dowd wants to take his giant rabbit, Harvey, along to all social occasions, much to the chagrin of his sister, Veta Louise Simmons (played by Hayley File).
Veta decides that her brother is crazy, and she is upset that he is embarrassing her daughter, Myrtle Mae Simmons (Abigail Fahnestock). She wants to have him committed to an asylum, but when she admits to doctors that his delusion is beginning to rub off on her, too, confusion ensues.
She eventually clears things up and the search is on for Dowd — and his mysterious friend. As the story unfolds, some truths are discovered and feelings are renewed, increasing understanding.
Director Loftin C. Woodiel said friendship is at the forefront of the production.
“Demonstrating that Mr. Dowd and Harvey are the closest of friends, Dowd commissions a portrait of them together that will hang in the Dowd sitting room,” Woodiel said. “It is clear that this relationship is the most important thing in Dowd’s life.
“This friendship between Elwood and Harvey is implied by Dowd’s every action, responding as the perfect gentleman and kindest of associates.”
One of the director’s favorite segments is when Dowd calls Veta on the telephone asking if Harvey is home. She tells him that he is in the bathtub in an attempt to lure him home. Dowd then sees Harvey enter the bar he is at and advises his sister that there must be a stranger in the tub, and she should check it out. Good friends do call and check on each other when they are late.
The cast also includes Alaina Cribbett, Helen Mormino, Bobbie-Kate Calmese, Samantha Moore, McKenzie Card, Katherine Kratschmer, Darryl Hunter, Skylar Cribbett, Philip Tran, Taryn Fox, Owen Fahnestock and Dexter Elmendorf. Makaylah Bell, Hattie Mallory, Kelcey Johnson and Jacob Reese are understudies.
The stage manager is Trinity Brooks. Sound crew manager is Jayden Bell; lighting crew manager is Jon Podner; costume manager is Taryn Fox; cosmetology manager is Rhiannon Robinson and set construction manager is Darryl Hunter.
Crew members are Shannon O’Neill, Iyla Blankenship, Darryl Hunter, Katelyn Maher, Beth Wurth, Sam Youngling, Anna Grace, Sarah St. John, Ashley Koelker, Quincy Chapman, Helen Mormino, Sydney Lomax, Shannon O’Neill, Katie Droste, Faith McKeever, Reece Buss, MaKaylah Bell, Ryann Jenkins-Laflore, Abby Abromovich, Katelyn Maher, Bailey Tweedy and Tristan Johnson. Photographers are Missy Lurkins and Emily Wilson. Videographer is Jaylen Bey.
Other students who are assisting with the production include Keelie Stork, Ikeyah Edwards, Peyton Wassek, Baily Tweedy, Sophia Cox, Jessica Cutts, Ellie Hamburg, Amarria Mumford, Dylan Keller, Nathan Walters, Dan Jun and Marissa Nosco.
“This has been a play of fun and friendship. The true warmth of Elwood P. Dowd as gentleman extraordinaire and gentle soul has affected us all, especially as we see the motives of his family and others unveiled,” Woodiel said.
“Harvey” will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, through Saturday, Nov. 18, at Marquette Catholic High School. Tickets cost $5 for those 18 years and older; $3 for those in kindergarten through 12th grade.