‘Harvey’ at Tantallon Community Players

The great Sanford Meisner once said that “the key to great acting is living truthfully in imaginary circumstances.” The cast of Tantallon’s latest production, which is Mary Chase’s Harvey, certainly mastered that concept on more levels than one! The entire cast did a phenomenal job of bringing a distinct sincerity and truth to their roles.

Lani Novak as Ms. Chevanette and Dick Reed as Elwood P. Dowd. Photo by Larry Carbaugh.
Lani Novak (Ms. Chevanette) and Dick Reed ( Elwood P. Dowd). Photo by Larry Carbaugh.

Dick Reed portrayed a brilliantly quirky and pleasant Elwood P. Dowd. From the moment he enters the stage, you can’t help but smile. Maureen Roult played the distressed and motherly Veta with overflowing emotional. She has a completely realistic breakdown after her traumatic ordeal at the sanitarium.

Lani Novak portraysd the sprightful and exuberant Ms. Chevanette. Though she only appears in one scene during the first act, her larger-than-life personality steals her scenes, Rory Chagnon displays realistic angst as Myrtle Mae. Her immense teenage frustrations are only soothed by the awkward flirtations of Wilson.

Scott LaRue and Heather LaBelle are a delightful duo in their authentic portrayals of Doctor Sanderson and Nurse Kelly. LaRue, as Sanderson, did an outstanding job of subtly displaying a sparked romantic and intellectual interest in Nurse Kelly. As Nurse Kelly, LaBelle rose to the challenge of keeping a faux coldness to Sanderson, although secretly charmed by him.

Speaking of delightful duos, Jamie Hamilton and real-life wife Sarah Hamilton, stole the stage as comedic, loud, and commanding Doctor and Mrs. Chumley. From the moment both characters join the play, their strong presence, matched with their dominating voices, captivate everyone present, onstage and off. Tyler Clark is mischievous as Wilson, and has no problem showing a gruff caveman personality, which contrasted well with his romantic and flirtatious side in the presence of Myrtle Mae.

Bailey R. Center is warm and genuine in his portrayal of Judge Gaffney, an old family friend. His investment in the Dowd family is quite obvious, especially in act two when he whole-heartedly took on the task of aiding Veta in her pursuit of suing Chumley’s Rest sanitarium and locating her missing brother, Elwood.

Annette Landers is hysterical in her performance as the Cabbie. Her laissez faire attitude and comedic over- the- top accent did not take away from her focused demands to collect her cab fare immediately!

It was apparent that an immense amount of detail went into more than character development. The faded party sounds in the opening scene, as well as the era appropriate transition music, were authentic and complementary.

Director Juliette Kelsey Chagnon’s set was pleasant and intriguing. The varying heights of the Dowd residence and Chumley’s sanitarium were eye-catching while not distracting. Transitions were made easily due to the intelligent use of a rotating wall, which served as the separating factor between the Dowd living room and the Chumley reception area.

Heather LaBelle’s costumes were certainly thoroughly thought through as they were clear representations of each character.For example, Doctor Chumley’s bright red bowtie against his light suit depicted that, while he gave off a façade of normalcy, something was slightly off beneath the surface. The props, collected and created by Maureen Roult, were carefully picked and were very time period appropriate. The old fashioned rotary telephones added a nice touch.

Rory Chagnon as Myrtle and Tyler Clark as Wilson. Photo by Larry Carbaugh.
Rory Chagnon (Myrtle) and Tyler Clark (Wilson). Photo by Larry Carbaugh.

Elwood P. Dowd insists on including his friend Harvey in all of his sister Veta’s social gatherings. Trouble is, Harvey is an imaginary six-and-a-half-foot-tall white rabbit. To avoid future embarassment for her family—and especially for her daughter, Myrtle Mae—Veta decides to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium. At the sanitarium, a frantic Veta explains to the staff that her years of living with Elwood’s hallucination have caused her to see Harvey also, and so the doctors mistakenly commit her instead of her mild-mannered brother. The truth comes out, however; Veta is freed, and the search is on for Elwood, who eventually arrives at the sanitarium of his own volition, looking for Harvey. But it seems that Elwood and his invisible companion have had a strange influence on more than one of the doctors. Is Elwood out of his mind? Is Harvey actually real?

Hop over to Tantallon Community Players to find out. Don’t be a tortoise! Hare-y up and see this fantastic production.

Running Time: Two and a half hours with one intermission.

Harvey plays through March 7, 2015 at Tantallon Community Players performing at the Harmony Hall Regional Center – 10701 Livingston Road, in Fort Washington, MD. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif