I suppose I could start by answering Gill's question: Many, many, MANY years ago I saw the movie "Harvey". I couldn't remember much of the specifics, but I did remember that I enjoyed it. So when I saw (not on this page, tut, tut, tut) that KADS was doing the stage version, I thought that it would be interesting to see. When I heard that Ray Egan was playing the lead, I decided that this was a must-see. Ray is one of my favourite actors in Perth - a consummate amateur ("For the love of..."), a truly believable actor, and a helluva nice bloke.
As Elwood P. Dowd (with a "w", not a "u"), Ray surprised the hell out of me as he came on stage, opened his mouth... and all the lines came out of his nose. An authentically nasal American accent, and a damn impressive Jimmy Stewart impersonation, to boot! I'll admit that this bothered me a little initially - not the accent itself, which was flawless - but the choice to deliberately mimic Jimmy Stewart. It almost seemed a cliche, and I wondered if the audience were thinking, "Listen, he's doing Jimmy Stewart," rather than paying attention to the dialogue. But I soon settled into it, and my concerns are probably just me talking rubbish as usual.
As good as Ray was, I think the show was almost stolen from him by a wonderful perfomance from Barbara Reynolds as Elwood's sister, Veta. I don't know whether it was natural or assumed, but that was the best American accent I've heard in a long time. Veta exuded matriarchal authority as well as pent-up frustration as she reached the end of her tether with Elwood and his "socially embarrassing" 6'1.5" invisible white rabbit. Her scene at the start of Act 2, after she'd just escaped from the sanatorium, was a riot, and was rewarded by a well-deserved spontaneous round of applause.
Also impressive werePaul Abbott, whom I enjoyed in "Lady Windemere's Fan" last year, and newcomer Claire Steele. A large role for Claire and an impressive, energetic debut, aided by immaculate period hair, make-up and costume (although, drawing a pencil line on the back of a pair of pantihose, doesn't make them 1950s nylons, Liza). And I'm surprised there's any scenery left after Peter Cross and Peter Fry got through chewing it to pieces every night.
The set was upto the usual KADS standard, but the music, unfortunately, wasn't. KADS' previous two productions had set the scene marvellously with introductory music ("Picasso at the Lapin Agile" transported us to 1900s Paris with French accompaniment, and the play before that thrust us into the 1970s with lovemeister Barry White). "Harvey" opened with some discordant piano tinkling which segued into eerie X-Files-type music. Sorry, but it didn't work for me.
The set was a marvel. A two-door opulent American sitting room box set, transformed between scenes into a sterile four-door hospital antechamber box set. Even the colour of the walls seemed different through lighting wizardry. Although, with such a small stage as KADS, it seemed a pity that it couldn't be fully lit. We tended to lose actors in shadow every time they ventured downstage left (which wasn't often, fortunately).
"Harvey" endured some trials during production. A change of director and promotion of Ray Egan to male lead halfway through rehearsals, would have undoubtedly put a lot of strain on those involved. Director Anita Bound and her cast and crew are to be congratulated for pulling it all together and presenting a sweet, old-fashioned comedy, which, if the laughter is any indication, was thoroughly enjoyed.
Harbour Theatre, Fremantle's only and original community theatre for 50 years,
is proud to present for our second production for our Golden Jubilee Year,