Joe Culley, director and performer in Valparaiso Theatrical Company’s production of “Harvey,” says younger cast members of his production of the beloved comedy are getting a crash course in early 20th Century culture.
“They all really understand the characters, but some of them didn’t quite get the 1920s and '30s references,” he said. “I’m just blessed with this cast, though.”
The show "Harvey" runs Nov. 9 to 19 at Michigan City’s Canterbury Theatre. “Harvey” is the tale of the quirky, middle-aged outcast Elwood P. Dowd and his sister, Veta Louise Simmons. Hilarity ensues when Simmons commits Dowd, who insists an unseen six-foot rabbit named Harvey is his best friend.
Penned by acclaimed playwright, author and journalist Mary Chase, “Harvey” made its Broadway debut in 1944 and ran for more than four years. In 1945, it received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
James Stewart took on the role of Dowd in a big-screen version of “Harvey,” earning him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Stewart also lent his talents to a 1972 small screen adaptation of the play.
“It’s a feel good play,” he said. “It’s one of those plays that says ‘This is the way to live a life and be happy.’ I’ve done this play before and I love it.”
Mike Zelisko is Dowd and Laurie Reyna is Simmons in Valparaiso Theatrical Company’s “Harvey.” Joining them onstage is Culley as sanitation director Dr. Chumley, Christine Long as Dowd’s nurse, Betty, Thomas W. Olsen as Judge Omar Gaffney and Kevin Kuhn as sanitarium doctor Lyman Sanderson.
“These people all have gotten really deep into their characters and they really understand their characters,” Culley said. “They are just wonderful.”