The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Harvey
Organization Placer Community Theater
Date(s) of show June 13-27, 2015
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review This is a classic of the theater, originally made famous by Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd in the movie version. And to me, this production by Placer Community Theater is a faithful recreation of the original. In fact I think it included parts of the script that were cut from other performances of this play that I have seen.

The recently remodeled and enlarged State Theatre was almost too big for this show, which I think works best in an intimate space. But the large stage allowed a well-designed and expansive set, which was built in such a way as to make easy and quick changes from the Dowd mansion to the sanitarium.

Ben Harwell was perfect in the role of Elwood P. Dowd, though the imaginary rabbit (Harvey) is said to be six and a half feet tall, and Ben is very close to that height already. Harwell was completely consistent in his characterization of Dowd: wide-eyed, innocent, over-polite, friendly to everyone and believably spaced out. You got a hint of his control of the character when, quoting something said by Harvey, he abandons Dowds gentle, almost child-like voice for the bass in which Harwell naturally speaks.

The show started with Genevieve Schloesser and Laure Olson entering as Dowds niece and sister. They were annoying from the start, especially Olsons whiny voice. Then after a while, it dawned on me that they were supposed to be annoying. I should add that it seemed to me that Olson was the hardest working member of the cast, always maintaining her character. And she was hilarious at the beginning of the second act when she entered completely frazzled after an unwanted bath at the sanitarium.

The supporting cast played well and really embraced their roles. My favorites, though, were Nurse Kelly (Melissa Brausch) and Judge Gaffney (Fred Burks).

The show was full of gentle humor mostly based on confusion about who should be the mental patient and there were cute comic touches throughout. As I write this, you have only one more weekend to catch the show and enjoy this pleasant period comedy, as I did.

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