'Harvey' coming to Englewood stage

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Mary Coyle Chase's beloved play “Harvey” grew out of her Irish Catholic upbringing in Denver, where she heard tales of Pookahs, imaginary beings, from her mother. A Rocky Mountain News journalist, she worked on her play for a number of years, until it was ready to open on Broadway in November 1944.

An immediate hit with war-weary audiences, it won a Pulitzer Prize for drama and ran for over four years and became a favorite movie, starring James Stewart.

We are pleased to learn that director Dan Carlson is sharing it with his student actors at Englewood High School, where it will play at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 and 23, as the first production in the newly renovated Fisher auditorium. (New lighting, new sound system, new curtains and new seats.)

Chase's tale of soft-spoken, gentle Elwood P. Dowd and his Pookah friend Harvey shows Dowd (Justin Wilson) happily introducing his ever-present six foot, one and a half inch tall friend Harvey (visible only to Dowd) to everyone he meets, such as Miss Johnson (Corrinne Martinez) and Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet (Shelby Moore). “Let me give you one of my cards,” he would say to new friends. “If you want to call me, use this number — the other one doesn't work.”

His sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Kyrie Schroeder), and her daughter, Myrtle Mae (Arianna Prange-Rozet), have come to live with Elwood, and are embarrassed by Dowd's rabbit, especially when he brings him to a party.

They decide to have him committed to Dr. Chumley's institution for the insane, which leads to all sorts of funny complications: mistaken identity, missing people — and, at one point, missing Pookah …

A side note: Carlson said when the playwright was writing this in the 1940s, she “went to the clinic where my grandfather and his superior worked to ask for advice on the psychology things. The two doctors in the play bear some similarity to my grandfather and the other doctor.”

Jonathan Scroeder plays Dr. Chumley and Isaiah Harris is Dr. Sanderson, while Jade Bagola in Ruth Kelly R.N. and Duane Wilson is orderly Keegan Cowger. Other cast members: Betty Chumley (Sophie Vamvakis), Judge Omar Gaffney (Zane Miller) and E.J. Lofgren (R.J. Rivera).

Additional students involved with cast or crew are: Leah Crane, Alandra DeAndrea, Kelly Erbentraut, Gabe Gravagno. Mo Montgomery, Vanessa Morado, Mara Neumann and Charlotte Verrastro.

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