Giant rabbit causes problems for many

By Bill Schlichting, Pilot staff writer June 18, 2013 09:29 pm

All of the actors in the current Chetco Pelican Players’ production are doing their best to present a classic story, except for one — Harvey.

The production, “Harvey,” a classic play by Mary Chase, is the story of a 6-foot invisible rabbit who is seen only by a select few people, usually Elwood P. Dowd (Sean Paul Farris) and, on occasion, his sister, Veta Louise Simmons (Sydney Clinton), perhaps Dr. William R. Chumley (Don Jones), and a Pilot reviewer sitting in the audience (Bill Schlichting).

Throughout the play, those who can see Harvey on the Chetco Playhouse stage, observe him standing behind the actors making faces, trying to throw the actors off script — which he never succeeded at doing — and occasionally messing with props; but whenever he did, the actors still kept in character.

To describe Harvey in a nutshell, he’s a pooka.

The rabbit makes his first appearance leaning against a street lamp where he greets Elwood and becomes his best friend. This causes concern, and problems, for his family, Veta Louise, and her daughter Myrtle May (Chelsey Taormina).

When Veta Louise can no longer take it, she seeks to have Elwood committed to an asylum. She explains the situation to nurse Ruth Kelly (Karen de Lucca) who then has her talk to Dr. Lyman Sanderson (Chris Eckersley). But after the psychiatrist talks to Veta Louise, he mistakenly thinks she’s the crazy one and has an orderly (Scotty Oka) take her upstairs.

Later Dr. Chumley, head of the asylum, learns of Sanderson’s mistake and takes action for fear of a lawsuit by Judge Omar Gaffney (Phillip Dolan).

Comedy continues to ensue as the storyline raises the question: Just who is crazy?

Also acting in the production are Hazel Campbell as Ethel Chauvenet, Steven Scruggs as the family butler, Amanda Newnham as Mrs. Chumley and Jeff Wood as the cab driver.

All the actors know and play their parts well; they have a range of experience, from Taormina, who has never been on stage before, and Dolan, who hasn’t been on stage in many years, to the experienced actors — Farris, Eckersley, de Lucca, Oka and Jones — the latter whose experience comes from Lighthouse Repertory Theater in Crescent City.

The weakness of the first three performances has been the technical problems. With six more shows remaining, these bugs should be worked out, making the play worth seeing once, if not twice.

The rabbit can be seen (or not seen) at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 21, 22, 28 and 29, and 2 p.m. Sundays, June 23 and 30. 

Tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for students. Tickets are available at Wright’s Custom Framing and Art Supplies and Chetco Pharmacy and Gifts in Brookings; New Wave Video in Harbor and at the door 45 minutes before performances. 

This production has played before full houses and light crowds, so don’t take a chance. Seats may or may not be available. For reservations, call 541-469-1877. 

For theater information, call 541-469-1857 or visit http://www.chetcopelicanplayers.org for more information about all presentations.

The Chetco Playhouse is located at 1240 Chetco Ave.