Potomac Playmakers stage classic comedy 'Harvey'
WILLIAMSPORT — Elwood P. Dobb is just an average middle-aged man who likes to make friends, and is a pretty normal guy.
Except that his best friend just happens to be a 6-foot, 3 1/2-inch pooka in the form of an invisible rabbit.
Andrew King of Hagerstown puts on the vest of Elwood as he stars in the Potomac Playmakers production of the classic comedy, “Harvey.” The show will be staged at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov 10; and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Williamsport.
“Harvey” first debuted in 1944 as a Broadway stage production. In 1950, it was turned into a film starring Jimmy Stewart, who once called the film one of his finest performances.
In “Harvey,” Elwood is just trying to live his life, but his sister Veta and her daughter, Myrtle Mae, are embarrassed by the presence of his invisible friend. Trying to get him committed leads to a comedy of errors.
King was anointed by his high school teacher to play Elwood.
“I remember in high school 15 years ago I had a director in high school that if we ever did it I would be perfect as Elwood,” he said during rehearsals Tuesday night. “I always had that in the back of my head.”
When the Potomac Playmakers announced they were doing “Harvey” for this season, King knew he had to audition. Although Stewart is probably the best-known in the role, King took on the task of making Elwood his own.
“It was a little challenging because you’re against Jimmy Stewart in the movie, and they did a revival a few years ago on Broadway with Jim Parsons from ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ They’re both big actors. Obviously, I can’t copy that, so it’s just kinda of making him relatable, in the moment, making him a likable guy,” King said.
What King discovered about Elwood was that he wasn’t as odd as everyone thinks him to be.
“It’s funny because people kind of view him as the crazy one in the show but as you see the show,” he said, “he’s the most sane one and everyone around him is kind of crazy to things, and he’s the most calm. That was interesting getting into it, kind of playing with that.”
King said what he likes about Elwood is his boldness and his lack of boundaries.
“He’s kind of like a little kid in kindergarten, ‘hi, let’s be friends.’ He’ll be friends with anyone. He’s not afraid of making friends, and talking to someone and things like that,” he said.
There’s a reason why “Harvey” endures, King said.
“I think that in this day and age, it’s kind of nice just with everyone going on and the politics going on and people disagreeing about things, it’s almost escapism. There’s this guy with an imaginary rabbit — he’s living in the moment,” King said.
And, he said, there’s a nice teaching moment to not get caught up in the moments around you. He said it’s “be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you kind of thing. People can relate to that.”
“Harvey” is also about family,” King said. “He compromises for his sister Veta. And Veta at the end, kind of compromises for him to not change. Those things are relatable.”
But the biggest lesson is about being kind.
“Get to know people,” he said. “And people you think might be a little kooky might be the most sane.”
Top photo: Andrew King as Elwood Dodd stars in Potomac Playmakers’ production of “Harvey.” (Photo by Crystal Schelle)