This production was as lovable as the play was intended to be, and if you've never seen this one before, it's a must-watch comedy.
My first impression about this play came from Paul James' portrayal of Elwood. Paul has such comedic presence on stage, that I felt like laughing even in anticipation of his lines. I enjoyed his character. This is the first time I've seen any production of this play, and I fell in love with Elwood. Paul does such a great job of portraying Elwood that one has to feel empathetic towards hin, despite Elwood's (possible) delusion.
Rebecca Loughbridge (as Elwood's sister Veta Louise Simmons) gives a stunning performance. I especially enjoyed watching Veta vent her frustrations to Dr. Sanderson (played by Wes Meinhold). Her performance makes you understand what Veta is going through with her eccentric brother, and in turn makes the play a delight to behold.
Justin M. Spurgeon (as Dr. Chumley) was fun to watch. Each actor's performance, in general, was great, but what I enjoyed most was the interaction and seamless dialogue between the characters. It's nice when you can watch a play and not have to worry about character chemistry, the cast, the blocking, the dialogue or anything else. This production was tight.
Pamela Cilek's direction was spot on. Dealing with a large cast, she showed great insight and had everyone working seamlessly with each other on stage.
If the production was great, the set was fabulous. There were two sets, on three rotary platforms, and when there needed to be a set change, the three adjoining pieces were rotated 180 degrees. This was done with such style, character and finesse that it was as much fun to watch as the play itself. The number of man hours that went into set construction was quite obvious in the brilliant design by Lonna White.
This is a three-act play with intermission between the acts, but the show is so pleasant and well paced, you lose track of the time. The only draw back to this performance is the location. For all of us in St. Louis, it's up at St. Charles Community College, and there is construction on the drive on 94 West. Despite the distance, I would recommend this show. I found this production very cute and lovable. I look forward to watching other productions of Harvey to see if they would do the script as much justice as this one did. If you enjoy classic comedies and would like to feel like a kid again, Harvey would be your kind of play.
Harvey continues at St. Charles Community College through March 4th.