‘Harvey’ comes to Madison College


Andres Sanchez

Allen Ebert, left, and Patrick O’Hara perform in the Madison College Performing Arts performance of “Harvey.”

Lilliana Miranda, Staff Writer

I had the pleasure of seeing the play “Harvey”, presented by Madison College Performing Arts theater in early March. They truly did a wonderful job of reminding the audience how many talented individuals there are in our Madison College theatre.  

It was a pleasure to watch the cast, directed by Dave Pausch, bring the classic comedy “Harvey” to life. The play was written in 1944 by Mary Chase. It received a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1945 and was made into a movie in 1950 starring Jimmy Stewart. 

“Harvey” is about a man named Elwood P. Dowd, played by Allen Ebert. He inherited money from his mother, and it is safe to say he drinks too much and does not seem to work. Elwood is kind, sweet, generous and friendly to everyone.  

His sister Veta Louise Simmons, played by Gail Shearer, does not seem to like that. She also does not like the fact that his best friend just so happens to be a 6-foot-6-inch rabbit named Harvey. Elwood is not the only person in the play that can see Harvey, but Harvey only allows certain people to see him.  

According to director Dave Pausch, “It is based on an old Celtic mythology. The rabbit’s name is Harvey. He is a Pooka, which is like a spirit in Celtic mythology, like a trickster.”  

Throughout the play, Elwood has the qualities of a free spirit; he does not try to conform to society norms. He is not doing what everyone thinks you should do to be a member of high society and those qualities are seen as dangerous and threatening to the people close to him … so dangerous that they try to get him committed into a mental hospital to give him some sort of intense medical treatment to try to get him to stop seeing Harvey.  

“Elwood is a very kind person, and it takes the entire play before people see that or Veta which is pretty much the protagonist in the play, for her to see that his kindness is actually something that’s not very often in this world,” says actor Dasi Green who plays Nurse Kelly. 

I really enjoyed this play for a couple reasons. Not only was the acting good, but the humor really made my day. When Elwood’s mother passed, he inherited his mother’s home. Veta did not understand why and felt she was the one that deserved the home.  

So, when her husband died, her and her daughter Myrtle Mae Simmons, played by Stalker-Herron, moved in with Elwood and his 6-foot friend Harvey. Veta’s goal is to get Myrtle Mae into local society so she can find a proper husband. To do so, she starts inviting all the town ladies she feels are of upper society to tea in their home. But Myrtle does not want Elwood to attend because she feels that if he brings Harvey, it will scare people away, causing their social life to be ruined.  

It was so funny to see the characters’ reactions when Elwood shows up anyway. It was fun to watch Allen Ebert, who played Elwood, acknowledge Harvey with a nod or gesture as if he was looking up at Harvey. It was so much fun to watch because he really made me feel like Harvey was there.  

Gail Shearer, who plays Veta’s character, made me laugh so hard during a scene when she goes to the psych ward to get Elwood committed, but then she ends up being the one who gets committed instead. She is also one of the characters that can see Harvey.  

Her vocals shot through the audience; she had so much passion when she expressed her “concerns” for her brother and when she explained to her daughter and their friend the Judge Omar Gaffney about how they treated her while committed.  

Another character I really enjoyed was nurse Kelly; the role was perfect for Dasi Green. Although she was not really respected by some of the male characters in the play, her role was super important for the overall message because the only male in the play who respected nurse Kelly was Elwood. He would wait until she sat down first, he brought her flowers and did not allow any male to speak in a bad manner in front of her, yet everyone thought that Elwood had to change who he is just because he could see Harvey. Those actions spoke louder than words and expressed the true meaning of what the play is about.  

“It’s important for people to see that kindness can be very often taken advantage of and how it can be taken for granted,” said Dasi Green. 

The production team did an excellent job at making sure the audience understood when the characters were in a different location or scene by adding and removing different props from the scene. Nothing really changed besides placement of furniture, moving the location of a phone or desk and switching up portraits.  

It’s amazing how each movement of a piece or add on help create quite an enjoyable show. The run crew worked at a fast yet smooth pace to get everything in place without disturbing the flow of the play. I really enjoyed the lighting; there were scenes where Harvey would come in and the color of the light would turn a different color. Obviously, no one could see Harvey, so when it happened, it really helped the audience feel the presence of Harvey. My favorite prop was a hat that had two holes at the top; it belonged to Harvey obviously. 

Overall, I laughed a lot, but I was also presented with a strong message of how people are sucked into social conformity and how people in society try to fit into social norms. How when people decide not to do that and to not conform to social norms, others see that as a threat. It pulled some strings regarding involuntary institutionalization of mental illness.  

A little sexism happens towards nurse Kelly, but again, the play was written in the early 50’s. The overall meaning of the play was to be kind to others and to not treat others badly just because they are different. It also reminds you of what is important in life, which is family; family comes before society and its opinions.