By: Allison Upchurch, Staff Reporter
The quirky story of the play Harvey by Denver native playwright Mary Chase takes on a new light as the Phamaly Theater Company starts its run in collaboration with the Senior Housing Options at the Historic Olin Hotel Apartments. As mentioned in a Highlander article last year, the Phamaly Theater Company is a theater organization that offers actors with disabilities the chance to exercise their passion for theater in a professional setting. Through their goal of re-envisioning disabilities through the performing arts, their production of Harvey is engrained with talent and passion beyond compare.
Harvey tells the story of a man named Elwood P. Dowd (played by Toby Yount) who spends his time socializing with new people and introducing them to Harvey, an Irish spirit that only Elwood can see who takes the form of a 6-foot-tall rabbit. Concerned about how Elwood disrupts the family’s social status, Elwood’s sister Veta (played by Joy Carletti) takes him to a mental institution where she attempts to convince the assistant doctor, Dr. Sanderson (played by Marcus Cannello) that Elwood needs to be admitted. From here, misconceptions are made, relationships are challenged, and the question of the existence of Harvey emerges again and again.
The set up of this production deviates from other theater experiences in that the sets are arranged in two different locations within the gathering spaces of the apartment complex. The audience and actors will start the show in the Dowd Family parlor, set up on the first floor of the building, and move to the second floor where the mental institution set is set up, and repeat this process throughout the show. This act of having the audience move within the settings of the story allows for a more immersive experience in that anticipation for what is about to come next grows as the audience moves.
The actors themselves play around with the set outside of the stage experience by interacting with audience members in between scenes and providing musical interludes with song and dance. This allows them to showcase their wide range of talent and passion within the performing arts that goes beyond theatrical expectations. All the actors have traits that society believes slows them down, but here in Harvey they embrace who they are and take hold of their own narratives by expressing their passions for performance. Overall, the message of learning to love and embracing family members no matter the circumstances reverberates through the actors, and the audience.
Harvey is at the Historic Olin Hotel Apartments until November 11. For tickets and more information on the Phamaly Theater Company, visit https://www.phamaly.org/.