(Above: Left to right, Russell Dyball, Susan Creed, Sarah Nesslin, and Mary McCory lead the cast in The Very Little Theatre’s production of Harvey)

By Randi Bjornstad

Hear the title, Harvey, and most people probably think of the 1950 movie that starred James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, the man with the 6-foot 6-inch best friend who happened to be a larger-than-life rabbit.

But six years before the film version, Harvey was a Broadway play that had its premiere on Nov. 1, 1944, and ran for 1,775 performances until it closed on Jan. 15, 1949. Playwright Mary Chase won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her script.

The plot summary  — society-conscious mom (Veta) finds her eccentric brother Elwood (and Elwood’s giant rabbit friend, Harvey) to be a detriment to her attempts to marry off her daughter (Myrtle) so tries to have her brother committed with predictably unforeseen results — definitely has the classic elements of a good old-fashioned comedy, but director Kari Boldon Welch promises a few twists.

“Working with a classic play doesn’t mean re-creating what has been done but re-imagining with fresh eyes and bringing timeless themes to light,” she said in the play announcement. “This play is funny and poignant, with some fun surprises thrown in.”

The Very Little Theatre’s version, which runs Aug. 9-24, features Russell Dyball as Elwood P. Dowd, Mary McCory as his social-climbing sister, Veta Louise Simmons, and Sarah Nesslin as her daughter, Myrtle. Susan Creed plays society matron Mrs. Chauvenet. Harvey, of course, is Harvey.

The cast also includes Eve James, Katelyn Lewis, Adam Leonard, Kelly Oristano, Rod Anderson, Tere Tronson, and Hershell Norwood.


When: Evenings at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9-10, 15-17, and 22-24; matinees at 2 p.m. on Aug. 11 and 18; an opening night gala with refreshments follows the Aug. 9 show

Where: The Very Little Theatre, 2350 Hilyard St., Eugene

Tickets: $21, except $17 for senior citizens and students, available through the box office, 541-344-7751, from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, or online at TheVLT.com