Harvey showcased talents at Hononegah Performing Arts Center


Ingrid Roeske (Mrs. Chauvenet) takes the hand of Aubrey Hartweck (Myrtle Mae Simmons) as Olivia Gelander (Veta Louise Simmons) nervously looks on.

Hononegah's Performing Arts students brilliantly told the story of Harvey in three performances on Nov. 4, 5 and 6.

According to the Saturday Evening Post, playwright Mary Chase was inspired to write Harvey after witnessing a neighbor grieve the death of her son in the Pacific War. Chase's hope was to make her neighbor laugh again. Harvey first premiered on Broadway in 1944.

For her work, Chase won the 1944 Pulitzer Prize, edging out Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie that year.

Directed by Mr. Christian Frieden, twelve cast members showcased their pure talents - plus one extra cast member with a very real, but yet unseen, presence. Mrs. Carolyn Frieden, who directed Beauty and the Beast, worked alongside her husband as the assistant director.

Prior to opening of the curtain, music of the 1940's played, reflecting on the time that the play was written.

From the first act, audiences were hooked on the story behind each of the three acts where action took place, in two different locations: The upper-class Dowd residence and Chumley's Rest, a mental hospital.

Cast members held strong to their characters throughout the production, never going over the top.

The very personable, regular bar patron Elwood P. Dowd was brought to life by the naturally talented junior Alix Real who held audiences attention in his first lead role.

Elwood's best friend Harvey (played by himself) is a rabbit-like being that stands over six feet tall. Presumably Harvey exists only in Elwood's imagination - until others also see him.

Harvey held such great importance to Elwood Dowd that he replaced a photo of a prominent family member with one of Harvey on the wall of the Dowd home.

Elwood's socially-conscious sister Veta Louise Simmons (portrayed by the outstanding senior Olivia Gelander) becomes concerned and tries to have her brother committed to the sanitarium, Chumley's Rest. After Veta confides that she has seen Harvey too, the staff decides that she is the one who should be committed instead of Elwood.

Sparks flew off the pages of the script as Veta's daughter Myrtle Mae Simmons (freshman Aubrey Hartweck) interacted with her onstage mother.

Sophomore Kirra Fluegel had a noticeable turn as the maid, Miss Johnson.

Senior Casey Bohn displayed great comic and dramatic prowess as psychiatrist Dr. Lyman Sanderson. He and his assistant, Nurse Ruth Kelly, (portrayed by senior Elayna Robins) created the perfect chemistry between their characters, who had an obviously growing, and underlying, attraction to each other.

Senior Ingrid Roeske shone in the role of Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet, a close, old friend of the family who inquires if Elwood is “seeing anyone these days,” much to the chagrin of his sister.

Sophomore Gabe Sarrano, playing Duane Wilson the orderly at Chumley's Rest, brought his role to life, displaying an array of emotions with perfect timing.

The sometimes tough-to-deal-with Dr. William Chumley was played by Aiden Vanfleet. Senior Elizabeth Thor convincingly played his friendly and talkative wife Betty Chumley.

Junior Trevor Beed interacted with different characters as Judge Omar Gaffney.

Junior Saylor Kieper was E.J. Lofgren, a slick talking and memorable cab driver. After hearing that Mr. Dowd is getting an injection to turn him into a "perfectly normal human being" (meaning, a cheap tipper), the cab driver refuses to leave Chumley's Rest until he gets his fare in full. Mr. Lofgren's powerful speech results in Dowd's sister refusing the injection for her brother: Veta decides that she loves her brother just the way he is.

All characters balanced perfectly with each other as each scene flowed smoothly.

An encyclopedia at Chumley's Rest reveals that Harvey is a 'pooka,' a fairy creature in animal form from Celtic mythology who is 'wise but mischievous.' One is always welcome to see Harvey if they allow themselves to do so.

Director of props and costumes Susan Dibble assured that costumes perfectly fit the story's World War II era. Stage crews made sets that were changed in a turning fashion and in a timely manner during the show.

Annalise Mesa served as the stage manager. Assistant stage managers were Cheyanne Gratz, and Brady Sorn.

Angela Cho was the dramaturg. Mr. Jake Schenk is the PAC manager.

Cleverly placed props, including a working clock on the wall of Chumley's Rest, added greatly to the overall production.

The overall message of Harvey is the mystery of our world and the beauty of friendship, even if it is only imaginary, giving peace to anyone who might need it. The story also takes an advanced look into mental health.

Director Mr. Christian Frieden writes, "In a lot of ways, this play is an admonishment for how we ought to live our lives. While our world is filled with darkness and despair, if we open ourselves up to each other, engage in genuine fellowship, and truly see one another, we too can appreciate the beautiful mystery of our world that Elwood sees whenever he interacts with his invisible best friend."

Adding all of the touches needed to make this production successful was the lighting, audio, makeup and hair crew, plus several other students who were responsible for props and costumes.

Gemma Baines and band director Mr. Jeremiah Kramper built the sets.

Lighting was managed by Kyele Journey and Victoria Sanderson.

Audio crew was Braydon Beck, Anastasia Halcomb, Trinity Halcomb, Lucia Jahn, and Jackson Lawyer.

Susan Dibble was director of Props and Costumes, but she was assisted by Chloe Baker, Emma Ballard, Elizabeth Carmona, Rosemary Cook, Archer Dibble, Harley Fandel, Martyn Folowell, Juniper Gray, Addisyn Hansen, Salem Herron, Lilly Jobst, Keira Jones, Tia Leindecker, Maddelin Matrick, Nina McClung, Autumn Mohring, Jazlyn Oberg, Kaitlyn Ogden, Lela Pagles, Cristina Pennell, Alistair Petz, Annalise Schmidt, Maddie Schnurr, Sophi Stout, Alanna Sularz, Matilda Sumpter, Aeris Trapp, Angel Van, Molly Vosberg, Asher Wadsworth, Gabe Wanless, and Berlin Weidman.

Makeup and hair was handled by Macie Schroeder and members of the Props & Costumes team and how are you Mr. Wilson.

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