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Lisbon stages comedy classic
April 05, 2013 · Dave Morris

Lisbon High School students will present the Broadway favorite "Harvey" at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Old Gym.

"Harvey," by American journalist-turned-playwright Mary Coyle Chase, is the story of Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary best friend Harvey, a six-foot-tall rabbit. Elwood's behavior is the cause of much consternation and embarrassment for his family and friends, and the result on-stage is a comedy of errors. The playwright received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play in 1945.

Students in the production have discovered that the language of the 1940s, when it premiered on Broadway, is a bit different from that of 2013.

"It's old enough that the language is a challenge," said Karen Mills, who is co-directing the play with Robin Stoker. "The kids want to correct the speech of these people. But it's a learning experience. Character is often created through language."

Mills describes "Harvey" as a play for all ages, but one with a lot of dialogue.

"There are a lot of words. It's a relatively wordy play and the humor is largely in the language," she said.

The play opened on Broadway on Nov. 1, 1944, and ran for 1,775 performances. Among those who played Elwood was James Stewart, who also had the lead in the movie version, which was released in 1950. There have been a variety of television adaptations of the play and it was revived on Broadway in 1998 with Harry Anderson in the lead. Director Steven Spielberg announced plans for a remake of "Harvey," but later shelved the project after Tom Hanks declined the lead role.

The story unwinds as Elwood's sister tries to have him committed to a sanitarium. If there's a moral to the story, it's that you can be smart or you can be carefree and pleasant.

"Harvey wants to enjoy where he is," Mills said.

The students have enjoyed discovering what's inside the characters, she added.

"The kids are enjoying the idea of the six-foot rabbit. Some believe in the rabbit and others don't and believe it's delusion," Mills said. "It's nice to see how this motivates their actions as they try to navigate their characters."

Tickets are available at the door for $5 each.

Cast list:

Myrtle May Simmons - Kendra Schmidt

Veta Simmons - Bernadette Poduska

Elwood P. Dowd - Mitchell Stevens

Mrs. Chauvenet - Jean Springsteen

Nurse Kelly - Nicole Klostermann

Dr. Sanderson - Tristan Gingerich Feil

Mr. Wilson - Seth Hill

Dr. Chumley - Tait Larson

Betty Chumley - Morgan Reinboldt

Judge Gaffney - Caleb Morningstar

Cab Driver - Tyler West

Maid - Bianca Ruzicka

Hospital staff, party guests: Debbie Schwarze, Josey Achenbach, Bianca Ruzicka

Lights - James Cannon, Jacob Burnett

Sound - Trey Kamberling

Directors: Robin Stoker, Karen Mills

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