Roundabout Theatre Company, in association with Don Gregory, presents the new Broadway production of Mary Chase's Harvey. Previews began May 18, and the show officially opens tonight, June 14, 2012, at Studio 54 (254 W. 54th St.), where it will play a limited engagement through August 5.
Harvey was first brought to the Broadway stage in 1944 and was directed by Antoinette Perry. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1944, and its initial run lasted for four years-1,775 performances. The current production stars Jim Parsons (Elwood P. Dowd), Jessica Hecht (Veta Louise Simmons), Charles Kimbrough (William R. Chumley, M.D.), Larry Bryggman (Judge Omar Gaffney), Carol Kane (Betty Chumley), Peter Benson (E.J. Lofgren), Tracee Chimo (Myrtle Mae Simmons), Holley Fain (Ruth Kelly, R.N.), Angela Paton (Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet), Rich Sommer (Duane Wilson), and Morgan Spector (Lyman Sanderson, M.D.). It is directed by Scott Ellis.
One of modern theatre's most lovable characters, Elwood P. Dowd is charming and kind but has only one character flaw: an unwavering friendship with a 6-foot-tall, invisible white rabbit named Harvey. In order to save the family's social reputation, Elwood's sister Veta takes Elwood to the local sanatorium. But when the doctors mistakenly commit his anxiety-ridden sister, Elwood-and Harvey-slip out of the hospital unbothered, setting off a hilarious whirlwind of confusion and chaos as everyone in town tries to catch a man and his invisible rabbit.
See how the critics reacted below!
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: The Pulitzer Prize committee may have never erred more egregiously than it did in favoring "Harvey" over Tennessee Williams's first masterwork, "The Glass Menagerie." But handled with care, as it has been in this Roundabout Theater Company production, this winsome comedy about a lovable eccentric can cast a satisfying spell. MR. Ellis's amiable staging-which features expert supporting performances from Jessica Hecht, as Elwood's dithery sister, Veta, and Charles Kimbrough, as the eminent psychiatrist she hopes will lock her troublesome brother up for good-strikes the right, gently dizzy tone. Most important, Mr. Parsons carries the weight of a role immortalized on film by the inimitable James Stewart as lightly as Elwood does the hat and coat he keeps on hand for his furry companion. Mr. Parsons possesses in abundance the crucial ability to project an ageless innocence without any visible effort: no small achievement for an actor in these knowing times.
Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press: At "Harvey," there is overacting and under-acting, poor sound quality and endless windups for lame payoff jokes. And it is led by an actor who seems to be completely shorn of any charisma. Parsons, who plays a hard-core physicist nerd on "The Big Bang Theory," has merely transferred his pursed-mouth, vaguely creepy and unsocialized TV character to the stage. With no laugh track. For two hours.
Erik Haagensen, Backstage: Elwood is a role that has attracted a host of stars, from its originator, the vaudevillian Frank Fay, to Stewart, who replaced Fay in the original Broadway run and starred in the 1950 film, and Art Carney, of "The Honeymooners" fame, who played it on TV in 1958. Jim Parsons isn't much like any of those gentlemen, but he makes Elwood his own in an impressive turn. Chase describes Elwood as "dignified" yet "dreamy," "benign" yet "serious," and Parsons takes her at her word with wonderful stylization while adding just the slightest touch of dry humor. He is so convincing in his give-and-take with Harvey that we almost begin to see the mischievous sprite. Parsons stresses Elwood's concern for others and generosity of spirit, undergirding it with a touch of steel. He's terrific.