Harvey (Playhouse II, 2012)

Everyone needs a good friend, even if it’s a Pooka

Remember the Canadian Tire Guy? He was on your television for eight years giving you household repair tips, using Canadian Tire products. He laughed at all renovation problems and didn’t even get upset when his kids tramped through the kitchen in muddy boots. He was so annoyingly perfect!

Well, he’s back and he’s perfect! Ted Simonett, AKA the Canadian Tire Guy, is on stage at Playhouse II in Grand Bend as Elwood P. Dowd in the classic comedy, Harvey. Simonett is indeed the perfect Dowd, charming and charismatic.

He has big shoes to fill and does it well. Everyone remembers Jimmy Stewart who made the role of Dowd famous in the 62 year old movie version of Harvey. Simonett has captured the character and while he sometimes makes us recall Stewart, he has added his own unique touch.

It’s the story of the sweet and charming Elwood P. Dowd, whose best friend is a 6 foot tall rabbit named Harvey, visible only to Dowd. Dowd explains that Harvey is a pooka, a mythical creature who, in this case, is benevolent and helpful. Of course, Dowd’s desire to introduce his friend Harvey to everyone causes great embarrassment for his sister Veta Louise and niece Myrtle Mae. Having a crazy uncle is destroying Myrtle Mae’s ability to find a proper suitor, so Veta Louise decides that Elwood must be committed to a mental sanatorium.

The show progresses with hilarious antics, and eventually begs the question, who is the crazy one here? In the humour, there is great poignancy: we learn about friendship, love and family from the actions of a giant white rabbit.

Michelle Fisk handles the key role of Veta Louise very well. She demonstrates the conflict of loving her brother and at the same time, wanting to commit him. She is also very believable when she admits seeing Harvey on occasion. Fisk also brings great humour to the role, without losing Veta Louise’s sincerity.

Huron Country Playhouse favourite Keith Savage provides laughs as Judge Gaffney, while Victor Young is excellent as the frustrated Dr. Chumley. Young’s real life wife, Jayne Lewis is perfect as Mrs. Chumley. The entire cast has good comedic timing, while maintaining the poignancy.

The sets are excellent, switching between the library in the Dowd family home and the sanitarium.

Director Alex Mustakas made the most of the humour, providing many laugh-out-loud jokes, but at the same time, keeping the touching moments.

I saw Harvey two years ago at the Shaw Festival – Drayton’s production is superior with many more laughs, making the most of a cast with excellent comedic talent. Go see it, bring the family. It’s funny and uplifting.

Harvey continues with eight shows a week until July 14 at Playhouse II Grand Bend. Tickets are available at Drayton Entertainment at 1-888-449-4463, or check www.draytonentertainment.com

By Mary Chase
Directed by Alex Mustakas
Performed by Jayme Armstrong, Michelle Fisk, Lorraine Foreman, Jayne Lewis, Dan Payne, Alan K. Sapp, Keith Savage, Ted Simonett, Tova Smith, David Snelgrove, Victor A. Young
Playhouse II, Grand Bend
Drayton Entertainment
June 27 to July 14, 2012
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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2 thoughts on “Harvey (Playhouse II, 2012)”

  1. Your review really makes me want to see this show Mary! I’ll have to see what I can do about that….

  2. I agree. I think we are going to have to get tickets. So glad to see you review. I was afraid that it was over already and that we had missed it.

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