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March 18, 2013

AHS thespians tackle quirky ‘Harvey’

Actors recall their own imaginary friends

ANDERSON, Ind. — Sometimes, the ones who seem the craziest are the most sane of all. Well, at least they are when it comes to “Harvey,” the production the Anderson High School theater department is putting on next weekend.

The play “revolves around the quirky but lovable Elwood P. Dowd and his friend, an invisible human-sized white rabbit named Harvey,” said Tiffany Jackson, AHS theater director.

Think Frank from “Donnie Darko,” but a lot less frightening.

In the play, Elwood’s high-society sister, Veta Simmons, and spoiled niece, Myrtle Mae Simmons, are embarrassed of Elwood and try to place him in an asylum.

Instead, Veta gets committed after a mix-up and the hospital staff, along with the family, try to find Elwood and Harvey.

The message of the story? “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” said Daisy Ray, who plays Myrtle Mae.

For the young actors playing these characters, the concept of Harvey wasn’t too much of a leap from reality.

Many of the students had their own imaginary friends growing up.

Stage manager Cheyenne Baker said she had one she spent lots of time with who had to move to Michigan after her dad lost his job.

A depressing end to a friendship, other students noted.

Casey King, who plays security guard Duane Wilson, said he’s probably the only one in the group who didn’t have an imaginary friend.

And with the antics on and off stage, he said, it can be difficult to keep a straight face; something that takes practice.

It seems like something hilarious or crazy always happens behind the scenes with “Harvey.”

Sydney Brobst, who plays Veta, joked that it isn’t too difficult to get into character, though.

“I’m already insane,” she said. “I’ll just go out and act like my adult self.”

Elwood, aka Alex Webster, said he already talks to himself.

While it’s hard to tell whether Elwood or Veta is the crazy one, King’s character is just along for the ride.

“He’s really just trying to figure out the whole situation,” he said. “It’s really complicated.”

It’s a fun show that the students and Jackson want the audience to laugh at.

The kids have been practicing for just over a month and do so nearly every day now with the performances coming up.

Jackson noted that “Harvey” is a favorite among theater patrons and that the cast wants the audience “to be just as charmed.” So who is the crazy one?

You can decide. Who knows, it may even be you.

Find Dani Palmer on Facebook and @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.

If you go

  • The Anderson High School theater department presents “Harvey,” by Mary Chase.
  • When: Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 24, 3 p.m.
  • Where: Anderson High School auditorium
  • Cost: $5 at the door

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