Whether you believe it or not, “Harvey” is coming to Sequim.
The 6-foot, three-and-one-half-inch maybe or maybe-not-so imaginary rabbit takes the stage for three weeks starting with a preview night on Nov. 6 and regular shows beginning the next night at Olympic Theatre Arts.
Dave McInnes, an OTA veteran, dons the hat of Elwood P. Dowd, an outgoing and likable man suspected insane for befriending the invisible giant rabbit.
“When people see the play, they’ll be questioning if he is (crazy),” McInnes said.
“People are trying to get Elwood committed to a hospital but everyone just loves Elwood to death,” McInnes said.
Director Olivia Shea finds Dowd’s character is almost Buddha-like, she says.
“He’s a wonderful man but kind of crazy,” she said. “He’s charming because he’s so innocent and he never falters and finds value in everyone.”
McInnes said one scene speaks volumes for Dowd.
“There’s a nice line where it says Harvey has the power to transport anyone anywhere for as long they like,” McInnes said. “I’m asked by a doctor if I’ve done it and I reply no, I’ve never taken the opportunity. I never thought of a place I’d rather be than who I’m with. For any generation they are going to think about it. Elwood just wants to be there. He enjoys every single moment.”
That’s part of the magic behind “Harvey,” Shea said.
“Plays set in the 1940s are right during wartime and they’re always big epic comedies. They were fun to watch and took people out of what was going on. It’s not a farce. It’s a mellow, sweet comedy. It’s not broad comedy. Just a sweet man with all this swirling around him that he doesn’t react to.”
Dowd’s life faces a hiccup when his sister, Veta, played by Angela Poynter-Lemaster, tries to hide her brother’s furry friend from fellow socialites. She decides to take him to a sanatorium but through a mix-up ends up committed instead.
Fresh and familiar
Shea said Poynter-Lemaster brings a lot of experience to the play along with the rest of the diverse cast.
“It’s nice to have someone with that kind of experience,” she said. “We have all kinds of levels of actors all the way up to people who have done many performances like Elaine Caldwell who plays a society woman. She’s in one scene but really comes through.”
Other new actors for OTA include Cheryl Di Pietro (Miss Johnson), Jane Millet (Betty Chumley) and Joe Schulz (Judge Gaffney) along with Kathie Virgil as stage manager.
Shea said she had McInnes in mind for Dowd early on.
“I could see him as Elwood,” she said. “He was surprised I asked him to try out but he’s been really trying to get Elwood down.”
McInnes said seeing and reading “Harvey” really affected him.
“I knew I wanted my next play to be something special,” he said. “(Dowd) is a really friendly, eccentric, pleasant and positive person. His character is willing to do anything for people. He’s a charmer where people really like him.”
Dowd also is very smart, McInnes said.
“Another line he says was that he was smart for 40 years,” McInnes said. “He was told, Elwood you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, I’ve been smart for 40 years, I’d recommend pleasant.”
Lines like this are what make “Harvey” special to McInnes.
“Olivia finds all the little innuendos, all the lines,” he said. “She makes a lot of meaning out of all the things Mary Chase is having them say. She’s making words that aren’t usually laughed at become more funny or meaningful.”
The appeal for locals, Shea said is that many theater-goers who grew up watching “Harvey” can relate to this performance.
“The humor is kind. The whole play is kind. Nobody is mean or malicious,” she said. “It harkens back to days when everything was pretty nice. We didn’t have to worry about bloody horrible things. The audience really does adore things like this.”
For more information, visit www.olympictheatrearts.org.
by Mary Chase
Directed by: Olivia Shea
Where: Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave.
Performances: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday Nov. 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22, 2 p.m. Nov. 9, 16, 23.
Tickets: Available by calling 683-7326, at the box office 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday or at www.olympictheatrearts.org.
Prices: $10 preview night is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, and Pay What You Will is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13.