Taylor’s production of “Harvey” tells the story of a man and his imaginary friend through a perfect dose of comedy and loveable characters on stage.
Mary Chase wrote “Harvey” as a way to bring joy to her neighbor who lost her son in the war. Thus, Chase’s motive behind the play simply came from wanting to make her neighbor happy.
“I think that more than anything else, I’d like to lift the spirits of Taylor’s students who have just endured a really tough year,” said junior cast member Steven Day. “I’ve seen many friends and classmates fall behind or fall into depression as a result of these demanding semesters, and what better way to send the student body into the next year than with a play about love, joy, laughter,and friendship? I hope this play inspires us to look forward to gaining those things once again in a less distanced, more meaningful way.”
Day plays the role of Elwood P. Dowd. As Day is preparing to step into the role, he looks forward to seeing the world through Elwood's Lens because it encourages him to live his life with love and to seek joy in all circumstances.
“Elwood lives his life off the principle of choosing pleasantry in all interactions, as opposed to trying to be ‘smart,’” Day said. “After years of living his life trying to be ‘clever’ or ‘brainy,’ Elwood receives advice from his mother that makes him realize the best way to live his life is with a loving mindset of beauty and wonder for all people.”
Sophomore Angie DeStefano plays Myrtle Mae, who is the daughter of Veta Louise Simmons, played by senior Elizabeth Carrier, and the niece of Day’s character, Elwood P. Dowd. DeStefano described her character as a distracted, childish, frilly and spoiled young lady.
The way in which DeStefano has come to embrace her character is through physicality, as she has learned to shape her body in the way that Myrtle Mae would.
“I twiddle my thumbs a lot and I stand very upright and take very little steps,” DeStefano said. “It's kind of like I'm constantly running, and it gives me this kind of quick-paced, silly demeanor. Changing how my body moves and which parts of my body that I lead with has greatly affected how I think about this character.”
As DeStefano has learned to embrace her role as Myrtle Mae, Carrier has learned how to best play her role as Veta Louise Simmons. Carrier stated that she has broadened her horizons of what she thought possible in order to step into the shoes of such an expressive character.
“This character expresses things much larger than I would on day-to-day basis, so it’s been a lot of fun to explore such a dramatic range of emotive expression,” Carrier said.
In addition to learning the ins and outs of their characters, each cast member is required to fulfill a minimum of 10 hours dedicated to production. DeStefano is the charge scenic artist, which means that she is in charge of painting the set.
There are two sets showcased within the production, one being a high-end library and the other being a sterile hospital. According to DeStefano, the library set is very warm. It is a fluid green, almost like vegetation. On the other hand, the hospital consists of flat and solid-colored white and blue paint.
“It really switches from this very organic learning environment to a hospital,” DeStefano said. “The mood switches so quickly between sets and it’s very prevalent in the actors.”
After a year of such isolation and division, “Harvey” is an outlet for students to come together for nothing short of a joyful memory.
“The cast and crew of Harvey have all come together to share a story of joy and to give the gift of laughter to audience members,” Day said. “Our rehearsals have been full of games, laughter and exercises that can be really healing to a community of students whose desire for communion with others may have been drastically unfulfilled within the past year.”
Harvey began its run on Apr. 30 and will run until May 9 in Mitchell Theatre.