"Harvey" coverage

Josh Richardson (Elwood P. Dowd) and other cast members lingered after the June 12 opening of "Harvey," and talked with audience members.

“Harvey,” playing at the CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, may just make you wish you had an imaginary friend of your own.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play, written in 1944 and made into a 1950 film that provided one of Jimmy Stewart’s signature roles, earned the approval of its June 12 opening night audience in the Leishman Performance Hall.

“The guy who played Elwood P. Dowd (actor Josh Richardson) was just wonderful,” said Wayne Kartchner, 61, from Farmington. “He is Elwood P. Dowd the way he should be. And the sister, Veta (actress Meredith Gibson), is just as crazy as Veta should be.

“It’s just an old-fashioned screwball comedy, and their expressions are telling everything. All the actors are doing a great job.”

It’s a story of polite society being rude, and a man deemed crazy being the nicest guy, most caring person you could ever want to meet. That would be Dowd, an embarrassment to sister Veta for his insistence that Harvey, an invisible 6-foot rabbit, really exists.

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“It’s a fun show,” said Susan Wardell, of Layton. “I really like the guy who sees the rabbit. He’s cute like Jimmy Stewart was cute. And his sister is really funny.”

When Veta takes steps to remove the embarrassment from her life, mistaken identities ensue. Complications build upon each other, and various people end up getting exactly what they deserve.

It’s a gentle story, still set in the 1940s, and it unfolds in a relaxed fashion by today’s standards. But the satisfying payoff makes it all worth it.

Director Michelle Robbins drew full emotions out of her actor, and their faces and movements tell the story as do their words. Costumes are fun and functional, with flares built into the women’s hats for extra entertainment.   

The show’s pace, along with its quirky nature and upbeat message, may just convince you to slow down and appreciate those who come into your life, whether or not others can see the appeal.

“It’s such a fun story,” Wardell said. “I saw the film when I was very young, and I’m happy to see it again. It’s perfect for a small theater like this. I think people dismiss the smaller plays more than they should. They can be a lot of fun.” 

“Harvey” plays at 7 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday, through July 3, at CenterPoint Legacy, 525 N. 400 West, Centerville. Tickets, $15, are available through centerpointtheatre.tix.com or 801-298-1302.

Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or nvan@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @SE_NancyVanV; on Facebook at facebook.com/SE_NancyVanV.

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