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Harvey: On Stage in Hanford

IN THE March 16 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andHeather Parish
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by Heather Parish

On March 11, the Kings Players in Hanford opened their first show of the 2011 season, the American classic Harvey. Heather Parish took a moment to ask a few quick questions of the production’s leading actor, Sandy Brown.

Elwood (Sandy Brown) talks to his best friend a very tall invisible rabbit named Harvey.

Heather: For those unfamiliar with the theater’s great chestnuts, what’s Harvey about?

Brown: Harvey is a play by Mary Chase that opened on Broadway in 1944 with Frank Fay as Elwood P. Dowd. Elwood has a dear friend, Harvey, that most people cannot see and thus assume is imaginary, but in reality the invisible friend is a pooka. Family and friends try to commit Elwood to Chumley’s Rest, an asylum for the mentally ill, but with Harvey’s help, they do not succeed. What is a pooka? Is Elwood the only one who sees Harvey? Come see for yourself. Jimmy Stewart starred as Elwood in the 1950 movie.

Elwood (Sandy Brown) introduces his invisible friend Harvey to his Aunt Ethel (Bobbie Case) while Veta (Debbie Walker) and Mrtyle Mae (Debra Lines) look on in horror.

Heather: Harvey is a 67 year old play this year. How do you explain its enduring popularity?

Brown: The play is still very funny. We still have free spirits and people who try to contain them. When someone like Elwood, with a friend like Harvey, overcomes the threat of normalcy, we all laugh and rejoice. It is also fun to perform, and actors of all times love to have fun on stage.

Heather: You’re playing Elwood P. Dowd. What has been the most gratifying aspect of taking on this role?

Brown: The most gratifying aspect of taking this role is undoubtedly meeting Harvey and becoming his friend. I admire him so much. He started performing this role when it first began on Broadway and has continued ever since. He said, “It was a dream playing opposite Stewart in the movie, but I have always preferred the stage.”

Nurse Kelly (Rebecca Diaz) and Dr. Sanderson (Henry Gonzales) try to restrain Wilson (Mike Spicer) from attacking Elwood P. Dowd (Sandy Brown) in a scene from HARVEY.

Heather: You’ve been involved in a few productions at Hanford’s Kings Players. How would you characterize the group?

Brown: Kings Players is made up of a group of talented people who love to perform for others, especially when we can make them laugh. Sometimes I feel a little like one of the Little Rascals sitting out by the garage saying, “I know what we could do, we could put on a show!” And then they do it. We have that feel, but we are also very well organized with a Board of Directors and everything.

Heather: What do you hope audiences experience when they come to see Harvey?

Brown: I hope audiences have fun watching Harvey. I hope they laugh their heads off and appreciate the depths of Harvey’s talent and dedication.

The Kings Players’ production of Harvey is directed by Wyleen Luoma. It opened on March 11 and is playing at 7:30 p.m. on March 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, April 1, and 2. There are 2:00 p.m. Sunday Matinees on March 20, 27, and April 3. Location is the Temple Theatre, 514 E. Visalia Street, Hanford, CA. Tickets are $10 and may be reserved by calling 559-584-7241. Call ahead as some shows are already sold out. For further information on The Kings Players check out their website & their listing on KRL’s Local Theatre page.

Heather Parish is a contributor to our Area Arts & Entertainment section & a part of KRL’s editing team. She is a freelance writer & theatrical director. Originally from Visalia, she is the artistic director for The New Ensemble in Fresno. Heather can be found on Facebook.

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